EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Copyright © Geoff Thompson 2007 All rights reserved. The right of Geoff Thompson to be identified as the author of this work have been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Condition of Sale This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent publisher. Summersdale Publishers Ltd 46 West Street Chichester West Sussex PO19 1RP UK www.summersdale.com Printed and bound in Great Britain ISBN: 1-84024-597-2 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-597-4

As always, with big love and thanks to my beautiful wife Sharon for carrying my bones over some tough terrain. Thank you to my lovely friend Margaret Ring for being an inspiration to me and my children over many a McDonald’s coffee.

Also by Geoff Thompson Red Mist Watch My Back: The Geoff Thompson Autobiography The Elephant and the Twig: The Art of Positive Thinking The Great Escape: The 10 Secrets to Loving Your Life and Living Your Dreams Fear – The Friend of Exceptional People: Techniques in Controlling Fear Shape Shifter: Transform Your Life in 1 Day The Formula: The Secret to a Better Life Stress Buster: How to Stop Stress from Killing You Dead or Alive: The Choice is Yours .

.....35 Forgiveness: the Healthy Option................................................................................131 We Are All Dying............60 Have Your Cake and Eat It............................................................................................................................................................18 Change Chaser.135 What do You Want to do?.................................................126 Waterfall...................80 Reciprocal Returns.........................68 Looking Out..................................30 Everything that Happens to Me is Good................86 The Art of Restriction....................................................47 Gratitude: a Bit of Invisible Support...........................................................................................................153 ..........................149 You Are What You Ingest......................9 Carp Fishing..............................Contents Foreword....................................98 The Pornographic Wasp............................................................................................................................................140 Who am I to be a Success?..........................122 Time........................23 Easy...................................64 Intention...............................................................................................................93 The Blame Trap....................................................... Looking In....114 There is No Land Rover............................................................103 The Power of Books.............................................................................83 Suffering.27 Everest.................108 The Reciprocal Universe.................14 Catching Crabs ................41 Goals....................................................................7 Be Nice..........................................................75 Night-travellers........................................................................................118 They Laughed at Lowry...........................................................................


(And whatever you do. After many requests from readers (and several prompts from Richard Barnes. I personally love an uplifting article on the commute to work or a cerebral snack over lunch. I hope this proves to be just that. magazines and my website.) There is something very satisfying and enjoyable (I think) about filling one of life’s many stolen or idle moments with a good. my friend and web master) I have decided to collect my favourites into the book you have before you now.Foreword Although I am primarily a writer of books and films. quick read. don’t give me a book to read in the loo – I might never come out again. over the years I have also penned a bevy of articles for newspapers. Geoff Thompson 7 . I’ve also added a few extended and revised extracts from my book The Elephant and the Twig because they fit the ethos of this work.


not because it is sweet. ‘I knew a man they called him mad the more he gave the more he had. The poem went. And yet the mention of the reciprocality of genuine niceness does not seem to find its way into the reams of written work on doing business.’ I think we can assume from this small ditty that the man in question was a nice man who had stumbled upon one of life’s great secrets: What you give out will return. as long as you are not being nice for profit. 9 . rather because it is true. There is a massive profit in being nice.Chapter 1 Be Nice I read a fabulous poem once that has always stuck with me. How bizarre.

risk taking. Many of the books talked about the win-win mentality. The business world can often be a very difficult. But none advised me about the most important lesson in business: Be nice. Nobody does 10 . It is not hard. Even the ones that were terrible taught me about where I didn’t want to be. Simply be nice. speculation. Those who scratch backs without asking for their own to be scratched are often judged with the utmost scepticism. lost it and made it back again. about ethics. courage in business. The books have all been enlightening.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD In my pursuit of freedom through information I have studied everything from religion to spirituality. philosophers and gurus and taught about the dangers of money and power. and dedication. It costs nothing and it goes a hell of a long way (and comes back laden with profit). I have read books by the guys and gals that have made it. the art of making a living. Some quoted great sages. People are often guilty of believing that everyone has an agenda – especially those who dare to be nice. about morals. from theology to philosophy and law. and even those that made it and hid the proceeds under the bed in a biscuit tin for fear of losing it all. innovation. cynical environment. lost it. made it and given it all away. about profit and loss. made it and squandered it. those that dare to give and ask nothing in return. and of course I have read – looking for inspiration – plenty about business.

His capacity to help others to fulfil their 11 . He never stops being nice. He never stops giving. Touching Evil and Linda Green to name just a few of the shows he’s created. People are throwing work at him. he is probably the top British TV writer of all time. He is responsible for (most recently) Shameless. For those who don’t know him. his work ethic even more so. Always. Clocking Off. What you give out always returns. most inspiring people in my world are all nice. It is the law. both with his time and his advice. They all do things for me – and for many others – with no thought of profit. You might think that his success is simply because of his hard work. The best. His work is amazing. State of Play. But of course this is not true. He has deals and contracts and commissions coming out of his very eyes. He is a dynamo. You’d be wrong. who is an incredibly successful writer. His house is like Euston Station on a Friday afternoon with all the comings and goings of the people he is helping. There is no such thing as a free lunch.BE NICE anything for nothing. I have a friend. Paul Abbot. They are all generous. He is also an extremely generous man. most attractive. If you go to his house and watch how he works you will see why he is so successful. They are all kind and do good deeds purely for the love of doing them.

as is Paul. or offer them anything other than gratitude. The great thing about Paul and Glenn and May is that most of the people they look after are not even in a position to return the favour. she has found immortality in the minds of many people (not least mine) just because she was so generous and nice. Ultimately. struggling writers.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD own ambitions and dreams seems limitless. And the more he gives away the more he seems to get back. Even if – at this present moment in time – their game is not as sharp as it might be. Glenn is thriving in business and life. people will help them tighten their game. He gets in loads and loads of work and gives much of it away to new writers. The effect is amazing. I have found that people want to work with people who are nice. even create work for them. Similarly. and although my Auntie May is no longer on this plane. and how many people he helps without asking anything in return. And my Auntie May (sadly now deceased) literally filled the room with her capacity to be nice and to give for no other profit than the joy it brought her. People will bend themselves into all sorts of contorted shapes (including over backwards) so that they can help. often writers that the system has chewed up and spat out. And I am not talking 12 . I am always hearing stories about how nice my friend Glenn Smith is. If they are nice. people will go out of their way to find. And yet the more they give the more they seem to get.

nice to fit in or even nice to impress. People like it when you are nice. Dishonesty in business is always the eventual harbinger of doom. and whilst profit may sojourn with those who do not heed the rules. Being nice because it helps others. it will only find permanent abode with those who do. nice for the effect.’ I have even been told that there is no room in business for nice people. If the nice you are offering is not of the genuine variety then it is a lie. 13 . There is no profit in being nice. unless being nice is congruent with who you actually are. I am sure that to some of the hard-line business people out there this might sound a little trite: ‘Be a nice person.BE NICE about pseudo-nice. there will ultimately be no room in business for you. I am only talking about the genuine article. The meek (as they say) will inherit the earth.) But I would argue that if you are not nice. (Business types often mistake nice for weak.

As you can imagine 14 . I was also right in the middle of a very big book signing tour (for Watch My Back) that saw me visiting 60 shops in about 32 cities. Scotland with my friend Peter Consterdine. of which Edinburgh was but one. the teaching.Chapter 2 Carp Fishing I can remember (as though it were yesterday) a troubling internal conflict that I was wrestling with about five-years ago. and the heavy travelling schedule. Bouncer and On The Door) into a hardcover omnibus edition and self-publish it in a bid to make The Sunday Times bestseller list. I was teaching in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. But teaching was just one of the myriad balls I was juggling at the time. As well as the tour. I had also undertaken a huge financial risk when I decided to amalgamate all my bouncer books (Watch My Back.

Someone – disgruntled by my work. but with everything I was already carrying this one thing seemed to tip me over the edge. I was becoming anxious and angry. Peter has always been a mentor to me. in fact. But I was handling it OK. but they nevertheless found page space and were read by thousands. The nature of the letters – very personal and derogatory – were both unjustified and unfair. whether I wanted to actually be on the martial-arts scene at all if it spawned and seemingly encouraged such inane negativity. Now you might think that this is par for the course when you are a profiled author. he was the one who initially took me under his wing and helped me develop some very raw ideas into books. my success. I was troubled so I spoke with Peter about it one night in the bar of the Malmaison Hotel. At any other time I probably would have left the slander where it belonged – in the bin. that is. by me – decided to make it their life’s mission to slander and threaten me via the Letters page of the very magazine I was a columnist in. until fate intervened. The publication of these letters actually made me question whether I really wanted to write for this magazine anymore.CARP FISHING I was stretched. In fact. It made me question whether I wanted the profile I was receiving and. my profile. tapes and 15 . But with my mind stretched and vulnerable it found its way through my bullshit detector and was stabbing at my sensitive underbelly.

‘Geoff. It’s carp fishing. it’s not war in the Middle East. Just before one of the major championships. ‘It’s just carp fishing. dumfounded. but what he did say was that the guy became so worried/angry/ incensed and stressed about the accusation that he became depressed. Apparently it had become more important that his health and his sanity. his life. He’d been riding the high-tide of success when something happened that changed. ‘Carp fishing?’ Peter explained. Peter told me how he’d watched the story unfold on television and. what had started out as a gentle pastime. it’s carp fishing!’ I said (more than a little confused). it had become everything. started taking medication. nay ruined. It’s not cancer. he was accused of using illegal bait. thought to himself. had actually become his whole world. nodded wisely (as he does) and said. He is largely responsible for the success I enjoy in the martial arts today. split up with his wife and even lost his home.’ This guy had become so engrossed in his sport that. It was more important to him than his wife. 16 . Now Peter didn’t say whether our man was guilty or innocent. it’s not starving children in Africa. He told me that he was watching television one day and happened to catch a news story about a professional angler who appeared on TV regularly and had won a lot of major championships. his home. his family.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD seminars. Peter listened intently.

His father asked him. and when this happens molehills quickly start becoming mountains. And an opinion from some yokel who had never stepped into the arena himself. ‘Then you don’t really have a problem. It’s not life and death. an individual. mountains can often be (or appear to be) insurmountable.CARP FISHING What Peter pointed out to me. about not letting things become bigger than they really are. is the fact that the criticism I was receiving.’ This reminded me of another friend who went to see his father – a war veteran – for advise about a problem he was having. and what has stayed with me ever since. His father said. 17 . and a few letters.’ What I learned from this valuable lesson is that we often take ourselves and our problems way too seriously. ‘Is someone going to kill you?’ My friend said no. I suppose what I am trying to say is that it’s all about perspective. far from being important. Geoff. and as we should all know. while he was one of the faceless multitude that liked to jeer from the bleachers because they were too scared to step into the ring. We focus on them so intently that we lose our valuable sense of perspective. It is very difficult for the eyes to see clearly what the mind has got completely out of focus. As Peter said to me. was just carp fishing. It was an opinion. ‘It’s one man. someone who was probably very angry because I was out there doing it.

What fascinated me most was not that they had crawled into what seemed an obvious trap. After a few minutes it became clear to me why. Eventually the basket filled to the brim with crustaceans. even when the fishermen removed the lid. rather I was disturbed by the fact that they did not crawl back out again. in no time at all.Chapter 3 Catching Crabs I watched a documentary when I was younger about how fishermen catch crabs (no. I watched in awe as these leathery-faced. salty men of the sea lowered a mesh basket onto the ocean bed and. caught a couple of unlikely crabs that crawled in via a small hole in the lid and made their first (inadvertent) steps from basket to crabstick. yet still they didn’t try to escape. not them kind). 18 .

like the crabs.’ I’d whine. It’s safe. face like a walnut. had pulled me back again. ‘But what will we do? What if we don’t make the mortgage? What if it doesn’t work out? What if… ’ It usually only took a few ‘what if ’s’ to get my blood boiling. thought for a second. (In fact. ‘Oh about thirty years. The old crab. tired of the unchanging replies. ‘What do you want to leave for?’ they would ask patronisingly. ‘This is a steady job.’ ‘And what do you think of it?’ ‘It’s crap. claws raised.’ he said without hesitation. The old guy. 19 . ‘You haven’t given it a chance! You’ve only been here five minutes. on the offensive.’ Similarly. went straight to work. I was amazed! I was watching my life’s metaphor.’ Then came the coup de grâce: ‘There’s no security out there. I’d been there six years. ‘I hate the place. my peers. when I told my (ex) wife that I wanted to leave my steady job at the chemical factory. the other crabs (the blighters) pulled him back in again.’ came the usual response.CATCHING CRABS Every time a crab tried to crawl out of the trap. you know!’ ‘But I hate it here. Every time I had ever tried to leave a bad job and break away.) ‘So how long have you been here then?’ I asked one day. her face turned rolled-in-flour white.

I could never think of anything else I wanted to do other than write. it was drowned by the voices of my inner crabs. but I had allowed others to convince me that 20 . a cat and a Raleigh Racer. And the longer I stayed the more glue I got stuck in. the disheartened crabs not only stopped trying to escape but they also joined the other crabs in pulling back those that did try. so many things that kept me glued to a job I hated.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD As I watched the documentary. I noticed that. HP payments. I had a family. three children. only to be thwarted by a faulty internal dialogue that was stronger than my will to continue. So the pen would be discarded and replaced by bicycle clips and a ride to the factory for a night shift that I abhorred. I’d been pulled back so many times in my life that I too felt disheartened. ‘What can I do to get out of this nightmare?’ I felt so trapped. a mortgage. 20-years on. Many times I picked up my biro in a fit of inspiration to write my way out of the factory by penning (what I dreamed would be) the next bestseller. I used to sit in the works canteen in the dead of night when everyone else was tucked up in bed and think. Even today. after being pulled back a few times. Self-depreciation became part of my inner core. The moment an entrepreneurial thought entered my mind. the very thought of that long ride still inspires a depression that reminds me how grateful I am to have found a way out.

Well. I nearly fell over with the shock. Blaming others was my way of hiding from my own fear. She gave me her permission. nothing and no one would be able to stop me. told me to shut my moaning gob and get a job that I did like if I was so unhappy. I realised at this point – looking in the mirror not at a hard-done-by 20-something but at a frightened youth – that if I didn’t want to stay in a job. my wife did something unprecedented. I convinced myself. leave the city. Monday-to-Friday life of oil and grime. If I put my heart and soul into doing something. I was stuck in the factory because my wife wouldn’t let me leave. That was when the realisation hit me like a hefty tax bill. She wasn’t holding me back at all. even mountains would crumble. 21 . after my usual session of Sunday-evening bitching. believed it could be done and had a little faith in my own power. But. The fault was entirely mine. I was up to my kneecaps in the brown stuff out of choice. My nightmarish employment was no more her fault than it was the fault of the old timers at the factory or my peers. I resigned myself to a nine-to-five.CATCHING CRABS I was dreaming and that this was not a real option. even leave the country for that matter. it wasn’t my fault. Then one night. Those around me only stopped me from climbing out of the basket because I let them. She retracted her claws. if I really wanted to leave the factory.

my incarnation. I climbed out of the basket. 22 . So much to do. Shortly after the shock of this realisation. A few years later my mates were all made redundant from the secure ‘job-for-life’ in the factory. I realised that the only security I needed was the knowledge that no matter what happened. I left my steady job of seven years and entered the real world of opportunity and excitement. I could and would handle it. This was my world. so many places to go. Me.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I could do anything. It was brilliant. I could be anything. I made a decision. exciting and scary. I snatched back my free will. I have never looked back.

I 23 . I have been thinking a lot of late about why people don’t succeed in life. I could neither articulate it nor act upon it.Chapter 4 Change Chaser Have you ever heard the saying (and thought. ‘What the hell does that mean?’): ‘Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it. at the time. To me. and why so many settle for second best when the whole world is open to them. even if. That price tag is change. You will get what you steadfastly wish for. but getting what you want comes with a price tag.’ I heard this saying many years ago and sort of innately knew what it meant. it meant that you should be careful when practising manifestation (the art of manifesting your desires and intentions) because it is an awesomely potent force that works.

He said that we should. a complete change of who you are. This change can cause temporary. Death of the old. ‘Be the change we want to see. Why do we fear this seemingly insignificant word? Because ‘change’ translated means death. Change is the one thing that we as a species tend to fear the most. we should not cower in a hole hoping that somehow change might pass us 24 . the worn-out and the redundant. Only very few people in society really get this. Change is a word often bandied about with a flippancy that does not convey its potential for danger. go out and. on looking through. even permanent disorientation. rather success was and is (often) a complete change of identity. we should not just sit and wait for the clammy grip of inevitability. face it and chase it. Change chasers are the leaders of this world.’ In other words. Fewer still have the bottle to take on this danger.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD realised that the main reason for failure is not fear of failure but rather fear of success. they realised that success was not just a change of job title or an award or more zeroes in the bank. rather than run from the change. I have witnessed so many people stand at the doorway to greatness only to balk and pull back at the last minute because. Gandhi had a radical suggestion regarding change. the out-worn.

it just as certainly means birth. to garner our courage and be the constant. There is as much freedom in acceptance of change as there is pain in resisting change. offers us a choice. bang on our bag gloves. You can’t have one without the other. birth of the new. If you can be the change. When the caterpillar emerges from its chrysalis. It has to die to the old before it can be born to the new. if you live the change. only our resistance to it. be the change. It is the only constant. we see the birth of the butterfly. But our free will. you de-fang it.CHANGE CHASER by on its perpetual sweep of the universe. The good news is that whilst change might mean death. We should anticipate change and be on its crest as the great wave comes in. Change is going to happen anyway whether you like it or not. take on the odds and challenge change to take its best shot. They are the opposite sides of the same coin. It suggests that we should put in our gum shields. to cower and hide from the inevitable or to be brave and be the inevitable. So you have a choice. get into the fray and out of the spectator stands. Death of the old. God’s great gift to mankind. if you are the change. ride it and use its latent and innate power to drive us. 25 . how can you fear the change? How can you fear what you are? It is not change that hurts. an exciting and empowering third option. If you be the change you want to see you take away its sting.

What changes are you hiding from? Which fears are pinning you down? What would you really love to do but at the same time fear to do? Why not empower yourself today and turn the tables on change by stepping out to meet it? You might be surprised to find a brand-new shiny you just waiting to shapeshift and emerge. 26 .EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Have a look at your life right now.

It must be because it is all I hear people say these days. Writing is easy. But easy? I don’t think so. ‘Geoff doesn’t do a real job. ‘he writes all day. It’s easy.Chapter 5 Easy Amongst other things. Perhaps for the ignorant and the inexperienced it seems easy. 27 . I love it. Perhaps it seems easy from the sidelines but then everything is easy from the spectator’s stand.’ they say. I write films for a living. It is what I do. but then everything is easy in hypothesis.’ Really? Writing is my passion. I have found that those who have yet to live up to their own standards will employ any available excuse to keep their pen and paper in different rooms rather than write the blockbuster they keep threatening to produce.

My first film went into production in January 2007. In this industry that is not unusual. Every major film company in Britain turned it down several times. (One of my films has been turned down by 75 different financers.) When I wrote my book Watch My Back it was a similar story. Overnight!’ So far I have been on this film for 12 years. People said. of course. Everyone said. (I’ll fucking show you. If Sharon hadn’t insisted I keep trying.’ It was turned down by more companies than I care to remember. a saint’s patience and the tenacity of a Titan. Let me give you an example of how easy my job is. Some of the early critique bordered on abusive. I have lost count of the amount of drafts I’ve written. ‘It happened so quickly. ‘Who wants to read a book about a Coventry bouncer? Leave your number in the bin.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD When I was ignorant and inexperienced I did and said exactly the same. they will be ill-prepared when reality smacks them between the eyes with demands for a steel fixer’s work ethic. It 28 . and the only way I stayed afloat was to use that criticism to give me drive. It hurt. I fear I might have taken the advice that I kept getting and thrown it in the bin. This is important. If people keep thinking that success (in any field) is easy.) It was that attitude that helped me get the book onto The Sunday Times bestseller list.

I loved it. Natasha Carlish. who re-mortgaged her house for the film. No one has it easy. the producer and Neil Thompson. I could go on but I think the point it clear. It is difficult when you feel that you are not getting any encouragement. It was too bleak. But difficult is a necessary pre-requisite to success. 29 . of course. and I) financed it ourselves. knock-backs and criticism have helped me to develop a sinewy self-belief and a self-reliance that is so muscular it has its own respiratory system. the director) over two million pounds in finance. It helped me write a short film that attracted international film stars. The many rebuttals tempered and energised me. too harsh. Life is difficult. Then I wrote a feature film and raised (with Martin Carr.EASY helped me write a stage play that had a national tour. It weathered me like an old oak. had been done before. Brown Paper Bag did not attract any financing at all. All the rebuttals. but… I liked it. The film that won the BAFTA. No one wanted to make it. a BAFTA and entry into over thirty international festivals. so we (the producer. I developed an iron resolve. No one thought it was good enough to finance.

Chapter 6 Everest A friend wrote to me. My friend had taken the critique (or the ‘beasting. He’d applied for money from a local screen agency to produce a film he had written and they had returned his script with a rebuttal and a list of notes on how unprepared they thought he and his work were. I knew the feeling. behind the times. judgmental and a bastard to boot. I have been there so often that I‘ve actually developed bark over my exterior to help weather the critical storms.’ as he saw it) all rather personally and was struggling to carry on. He was in bits. The critique (he felt) was so scathing that it made his eyes water.’ 30 . He told me that he was going to give up writing because the film world was (in his words) ‘biased.

With a slight change in perception. one of many I presume (in this very subjective and very demanding business. in shape and filmable. not least film-making. It is tough at the high end of any business. because it is unlikely to get easier as you climb higher. where millions are lost on bad films. I tried to advise him that what he was experiencing was film-making (certainly it was a big part of the process) and that he should get used to it. it was the north wind that made the Vikings. and bad films seem to be more the norm than the exception. He felt his work was ready. he chose to see it as personal insult rather than qualified critique. despite his set-back. It can be soul destroying.EVEREST This knock-back. My friend was attempting to ascend the Everest that is making a movie but struggling (and bitching about – please don’t bitch about) the altitude. had all but floored him. 31 . but when the experienced industry folks advised him that it wasn’t (not yet). chunks of hardship can be moulded into the building blocks of strong character. but you can’t by-pass it. rebuttal comes with the everyday post). sometimes it’s boot-in-the-bollocks painful. Adversity and advance are synonymous and. His email reminded me of a documentary I’d watched on TV and I told him about it in the hopes that it might inspire him to carry on. after all.

that is. Even helicopters fall out of the sky in these higher altitudes because the spinning blades can’t find purchase. This is why on the higher echelons of Everest (and of life) there are very few people. meticulous even. Until. He thought that this would be enough. 32 . on day one when his chest was as tight as a fat kid’s school shirt and he couldn’t catch his breath. he trained his body to perfection until he was all sinew and muscle. Now. lift heavy weights and captain his body and mind through the most excruciating physical workouts. His training was good. It wasn’t until he actually found himself on the mountain. he never really heeded the council. although this man had been told many times in his preparations that the air on Everest was thin and that it would make progress slow and breathing difficult. he could run a fast marathon. What he hadn’t prepared for (what you can’t really prepare for) was the actuality of being (as the Everest stalwarts are fond of saying) ‘on the mountain. The lack of air makes breathing – even for the fittest athletes – difficult. To make his dream a reality. that he realised his stamina fell short of the mark.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD The film was about a super-fit man who wanted to climb Everest. at base camp.’ Because on the mountain the air is thin. And the higher you go (as in life) the thinner the air gets.

‘you don’t understand. this is the norm. when you are on the mountain. If you want more air climb a smaller fucking mountain.’ Patiently the message was reiterated. all experienced climbers. the neophyte climber would not have any of it. The higher you go the less there is. I’m a fit man. I need to hear it sometimes. it’s a good day’). ‘No. He was convinced that his breathlessness was an early sign of some mysterious mountain illness.EVEREST He complained to his companions.’ And here endeth the lesson. if you wake up in the morning feeling shit when you’re on the mountain. I need to be told every now and then to ‘stop the bitching and get on with it. He bitched so much that in the end one of the climbers pulled him to one side and said (very firmly). ‘There is very little air on the mountain. ‘Look. The inability to be able to get your lungs full is normal. I should be able to breathe easier.’ Again. There is no air. Not being able to breathe was not normal for him. he complained. I am conditioned.’ I am always trying to reach higher peaks and often 33 . ‘Listen! We’re on Everest. As much as his companions tried to reassure him that the way he was feeling ‘was normal’ (one climber said. He was fit. that he couldn’t breathe properly and they duly advised him (and reminded him) that.’ he insisted. It’s a high mountain.

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to climb small mountains. 34 . back on my feet and moving.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD find myself ready throw in the towel. And if that means less air (I haven’t got much ’air anyway). the lack of help. Then I remind myself of this story. then so be it. complaining about the discomfort. I want to ascend into the clouds with the legends. the inadequate industry support. It always gets me psyched up.

so much so that I went and made myself a cup of tea.) I. ‘That Geoff Thompson bloke. tilted a similar lance in my direction. He has had it so easy. He told me that his lack of commercial success was due to the fact that he has had so many things block his path (poor health. had succeeded only because I’d had it so easy. He said this like nothing bad has ever happened to me. as though I was somehow impervious to the slings and arrows of life. 35 . family issues. on the other hand. etc.’ Another friend.Chapter 7 Everything that Happens to Me is Good I heard it the other day and it made me smile. a fellow writer. Someone said (with a hint of a scorn and a peppering of self-pity). he lives a charmed life.

‘We won’t know until tomorrow. disliked by none. not because nothing bad has ever happened to me.’ It was a long day. He has left me with a great legacy of love and very valuable lessons. I got the five a. phone call and my heavy heart bled. But he has finished his brief sojourn on this spinning globe and now he is home. It found its way into his bones. A five-minute journey to the hospital took a lifetime and when I arrived all the doctors could tell me was. My dad lived a good life. 36 . It was good. how to die with dignity. it is cause for celebration. Let me try and explain. One of my gorgeous babies took an overdose of pain killers when she was 18 years old. He was right. My lovely dad died recently. They were all right. It was an even longer night. I couldn’t even talk on the phone without breaking down. He had cancer.m. He was loved by many. how to live bravely. rather because everything that has happened to me has been good. It was his time and I was pleased that he finally got to graduate from this hard university we call life. He was a good man.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I have to come clean though. And that is not just good. It broke my heart to see him suffering so much whilst he was ill. Then he died. I do live a charmed life and I have had it easy.

When he died. My brother died violently. I have never felt such profound love for anyone as I felt for Ray during his five fast days of slow dying. I loved his very bones. There was more to it than that. She was in a relationship that was imprisoning and dangerously destructive and none of us – not me. a small voice (somewhere in my consciousness) said to me. He was bloated and yellow and ravaged and… so very beautiful. it was not me he called out for. Drink was his armoury and life was his enemy and. not her sisters. She recovered.’ My girl had fallen into a dark and loveless chasm where even the voices of her kin could not be heard. But my brother loved the drink and the drink loved my brother. She is now happy and training to be a teacher.’ I said. she went to university and met a nice guy who was appreciative of her beauty and sensitive nature. It was not 37 . ‘Terrible what’s happened to your daughter. but what happened to my daughter was good. well. What happened to my daughter saddened me beyond words. ‘We are sorry she is here but this is the only way we could get her out.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Someone said. of course. not her mum – could break her out. When she lay in that hospital bed. you can guess the rest. ‘What’s happened to my daughter is the best thing that could have happened. so much so that the love affair killed him.’ I trusted that this was true and it was.

It was difficult. That is ultimately where we are all heading. It is her life. another alcoholic that shared his oblivious and sad existence. everything I write about and everything I think. It is her body. They will (they have and will again) save others. 38 . It is her story. It is her journey and it is good because all journeys lead home. The lessons he taught me – both good and bad – I pass on. The friend that passed the bottle in long days of hard drinking was very human and very broken and he loved my brother. My close family and I are forced to stand by and watch this slow decline because we can’t save someone who will not be saved. But it was good. nor my dad’s. What happened to my beautiful brother has informed everything I do. It was also one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. I loved him. The illness is self-inflicted.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD my mother’s name that bounced and echoed off the hospital walls. I felt privileged that he chose me to watch his back as he left this life for the next. It was one of the most harrowing experiences of my life. I was with Ray as his decaying body buckled and bled and closed down. I have another family member who is dangerously ill. For that reason alone. My brother’s death was good. What is happening obviously needs to happen. nor the names of any of his four heartbroken children. It is her soul. He cried out the name of his drinking companion.

mentally and spiritually. Re-living each teeth-smashing boot to the face. I also fucked around. physically. Each of these. self-harm and illness. We all have to atone. lessons that are as profound as they are stark and reference points that add an empirical wisdom to every new situation that I bring upon myself. I carry the karma of the hundreds of guys that I fucked up on nightclub doors when I worked as a bouncer. No regrets. I am left with the residual ache of remorse. represented a step on the ladder of consciousness that has delivered me to where I am now. stole. So it has all been good. In my former incarnation as a man of lower consciousness. betrayed my ex-wife. It was all good. a better. You don’t just do that shit and walk away without debt. in-fight and post-fight have all been excruciatingly good. My actions spawned ten years of karmic residue that have brought me sadness. however. 39 . self-hate. guilt. It has been hard to forgive myself. especially my back-story. No self-pity here. Very good. The trail follows you until you find the courage to turn and face it and take the consequences. each concussive stamp and each spitting invective has been… uncomfortable. Much of it does not make easy reading. The pre-fight.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD I also have my own story. lost my integrity. more beautiful place. fenced stolen goods and hurt my kids with my thoughtless actions.

Although I vow never to repeat these dark experiences. I do. I will do my very best to neither spin nor toil. 40 . neither will I complain because it will all be good. Because I know they’re right. The road of excess (as the poet William Blake said) leads to the palace of wisdom. ‘That Geoff Thompson bloke. I know that life will continue to proffer some of its own. Every excess I indulged produced a lesson so painful. It does have a habit of providing the hammer. I will continue to drink my tea. So. And when folks say. Everything that happens to me is. anvil and furnace to temper every blade. if in life’s next instruction I find myself revisiting those shadowy places. he’s got it so easy. so profound. so earth-moving that it permeated my whole consciousness.’ I will continue to smile.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD The experiences that fell into the realms of excess have been especially good.

eyes start to roll and conversational exits are surreptitiously sought? Is it. do you think. Thus if spirituality came into the conversation I followed the norm and patronisingly ‘eye-rolled’ with the rest of the sheep. I’ve always had a deep interest in the spiritual. I admit. Though. Now that I am a little more self-assured I don’t need the kind of conditional security that the ‘norm’ offers.Chapter 8 Forgiveness: the Healthy Option Have you ever noticed that when you mention things of a spiritual nature. during my woolly mammoth period as a bouncer it was buried beneath the fear of looking like a twat in front of my mates. Instead I 41 . because the idea of seeking something unseen is completely at odds with today’s bodyobsessed culture? Myself.

when we closely examine our own lives. It is the doctrinal mainstay of just about every religious icon – from the Nazarene right through to Mahatma Gandhi – who has ever walked the earth. we see that there are many people preaching forgiveness. but I’ll never 42 . ‘I’ll forgive you. They say that forgiveness is good for the soul. but very few actually putting it into practise. looking good. We can’t forgive the foreman for the way he treats us on the factory floor. sinewy mentality. And yet when we examine the world in which we live. We claim to love those close to us yet we can’t forgive our brother for a ten-year-old error in judgement. sometimes we feign forgiveness with the anaemic proclamation. pumping ‘cerebral iron’ to build a deep.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD look to developing a deep-rooted internal security that is as steadfast as it is empowering. And we definitely can’t exonerate ex-lovers for using us as a spousal punch-bag. surface mastery – hitting hard. lifting heavy weights. Oh. building muscle – I now labour from the inside out. or our sister for some wrong she inflicted upon us last year. Where I once toiled for shallow. It appears that we can’t even forgive ourselves for stupid mistakes made on our own journey through life. One of the hardest lessons I learned en route was the capacity to forgive. nor our neighbour for a minor misdemeanour.

Our lack of forgiveness is killing us – literally. Holding a grudge is easy. It is not virtuous. You can do it without even trying.’ We even seem perversely proud of ourselves when we don’t forgive. as though it were a great virtue. Your contentious thought is registered by the mid-brain 43 . a physiological fight-or-flight. We also have a great tendency to rationalise our blame with inane remarks like. ‘Yea. ‘I’ll never completely forgive you!’ But you can no sooner ‘partially’ forgive than you can ‘partially’ fall out of a tree. Our failure to pardon manifests a resentment that grows with the passing of time. It takes strength. I believe it is a great weakness of the human spirit that forgiveness is not more widely practised.FORGIVENESS: THE HEALTHY OPTION forget!’ Or the equally unconvincing. This has a catastrophic effect upon our physiology. that’s a horse of a different colour. Every time the grudge is replayed like an old movie in our mind’s eye it activates the release of stress hormones into the blood stream. You either do or you do not. There is no great feat of strength in carrying the carcass of a long-dead argument. I can’t forgive her. It becomes an internal time bomb of bitterness triggered and perpetuated by every unforgiving gesture. To forgive! Now then. discipline and great understanding in order to forgive. but you don’t know what she did to me.

But – and here’s where the problems start – because the unforgiving thought is not physical threat but simply a reminiscence. Add to this the fact that your immune system is greatly impaired by the stress response and can’t. under those circumstances. as though for the very first time. even death. a saber-toothed tiger. It is already estimated that the majority of all contemporary illness finds its roots in stress. This means that someone who insulted you ten-years ago. behavioural fight-or-flight is not activated.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD as a physical threat. is still insulting you today – and you’re letting them! Logically. adequately defend the body against infiltrating viral and cancerous cells. who you haven’t forgiven. the best way to stop people from hurting you is to forgive them. acting like a toxic bath for the soft internal muscles like the heart. Even brain cells are killed by rogue stress hormones.’ This exercise is not so much a means of helping others (though 44 . intestines. We do not. bladder and bowel. This is what author Charles Handy would call ‘proper selfishness. and you have a recipe for disaster. run or fight for our lives so all those redundant stress hormones lay dormant in our bodies. your body actually relives them too. So every time you relive past upsets (because you can’t put them to bed with a heavy dose of forgiveness). if you like. therefore. lungs.

working as a nightclub bouncer.’ When I finally realised what I was doing to myself. I often bragged to others that. In my experience. I even try to forgive proactively before they even do anything to upset me. Now I always make a point of forgiving people when they upset my apple cart. Once you forgive a person you stop carrying them. Many people feel that forgiveness is a weakness and this discourages them from any active practise. I am ashamed to admit that I was very proud of my collection of grudges and perennially laid them out on the table like favoured collectibles. I felt as light as the proverbial feather. In my younger days. forgiveness is the shield and sword of the gods. It is a great strength that should be nurtured in all people. what I was letting others do to me. or more specifically. I held many grudges. I also felt empowered. ‘I will never forgive. and for several years. Like most things in life it is better to start small and build up. Forgiveness needs to be localised.FORGIVENESS: THE HEALTHY OPTION this too can be healthy) as it is a means of helping yourself. I instantly let go of the past and forgave those who I had been carrying for so long.’ and ‘one day I might even seek revenge. I didn’t realise that I was on a downwards spiral to ill-health. Every time I thought about my past tormentors I could literally feel the stress hormones going to work. Forgive 45 .

forgive yourself and move on. We all have skeletons in our closets. an internal cleansing that is an integral piece of the longevity jigsaw. What ever they are. start with a little forgiveness. forgiveness is cathartic. 46 . As far as health and fitness is concerned.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD the small things and gradually build up to the big ones. So if you want to stay fit for life. Start with yourself.

about ‘making it’ and ‘getting to the top.’ Whilst goals are good and dreams are the stuff of life. I always find myself asking. however. the staff. They want to ‘make it’ but struggle to define the vital ‘it’ part of the equation.Chapter 9 Goals People often talk about success. 47 . I admire those that aim for the top. what they thought of the campus. In a famous survey carried out in 1953 at Yale University. the library. People want success but they don’t know what in. each and every student was asked their views on a number of topics relating to the university. ‘To the top of what?’ Ill-defined or vague goals need to be crystallised and put in print if they stand any chance at all of making it from fiction to fact. neither is likely to transcend reverie without a little more detail and conviction.

rather than pose the same set of questions to the current crop of final-year students. Even their opinions on the campus canteen were sought. One of the most intriguing questions asked of the final-year students was. in their community and financial affairs. their relationships.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD and the lecturers. life itself) was posed. Interesting. It was agreed. you’ll probably agree. ‘How did your life turn out?’ Amazingly. and after much globetrotting research the majority of those surveyed twenty years before were found and asked. But not enough to write home to mum about. was the follow-up survey some twenty years later when Yale repeated the exercise. they decided to throw a bit of currency at the project and find all the people from the original survey of 1953 to see if their youthful aspirations had come to fruition. What was interesting. ‘If you have goals. They were outstandingly different from everyone else surveyed. in their health. This time. ‘Do you have goals?’ This question was followed by. The four per cent were also financially independent. the four per cent who had written down their goals were all hugely successful. even disturbing. do you write them down?’ Only ten per cent of those surveyed actually had goals and of these only a minute four per cent said they actually wrote their goals down. In fact. Every imaginable question about life at Yale (and in fact. even disappointing. between them 48 .

And if you want them badly enough you’ll make that extra commitment to write them down. but about time. the majority sit waiting for success to come to them – and for free. Income and lifestyle rarely exceed personal development. Goals cost and for those of us unable or unwilling to pay. fulfilment is rarely forthcoming. commitment and sacrifice. The word ‘goal’ is tumbling from the motivational lips of just about every success guru from Deepak Chopra to Anthony Robbins. How can you ever get there if you don’t even know where ‘there’ is? If you have ever read a motivational book you’ll probably know this already. it is fundamental. But the millions seldom come to those who do not develop the millionaire mentality. But what most sellers of success fail to mention is the fact that success (in whatever form you would like it) comes at a price. What this should tell you is that having life goals is not just important. So if you have a goal what you have to ask yourself is: 49 . It makes them official. And I am not necessarily talking about money. Rather than make these sacrifices and actively seek out their dreams. If you don’t have them. You need a definite destination.GOALS they were worth more than all the other 96 per cent – those who did not write down their goals – put together. risk. They wait for providence and fortune to show them favour. And they are right. you don’t get them.

for instance. or the port of beer-and-curry. lots of sinewy muscle and no fat (don’t you just hate that?) He’s ripped like a skinless chicken. And to show your commitment that goal needs to be written down and deadlined (time limits can be extended or shortened. You have to get your eating down to a fine art. They don’t want to pay the price. To get ‘cut-up from the gut-up’ you need to chart the right course. probably only five per cent ever end up looking like Glenn. But of all the people that come to the gym looking to achieve a similar body. then have the discipline and the staying power to stick to it without deviating to the island of cake. You need to set a course from where you are to where you would like to be. Why? Because the 95 per cent are not prepared to become the type of person they need to be to get a beach physique. He is in fabulous physical shape. if necessary).EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD Am I prepared to pay the price and become the type of person it will take to get my goal? I look at my friend Glenn. To build a body like Glenn you have to make sacrifices and develop a powerful will that’ll resist the Friday-night pissup/Saturday-morning fry-up scenario that follows a working week at the computer. But very few make it because the journey 50 . Diet – the ultimate discipline – is the pre-requisite of a good physique. He has the kind of rippling torso that most men dream of seeing reflected back at them in the bathroom mirror.

but I only know one or two with anything like a good shape. I’d watched good judo players perform the move a thousand times. But a hard workout is not just about the sweat and strain. Certainly the early stages are difficult when you have to change a 25-year-old cakeand-cookie habit and replace it with a high-protein/ low-fat regime. working on the finer points and setting the right course. It’s about the detail. Whenever I go to the gym I see people sweating their way around the free-weights and machines. I know a million people that workout. or even worse. ‘Set a course to where you want to go and you’ll get there. Next on the course is the training. I’d seen detailed illustrations in books and even watched demonstrations of the throw on 51 . back where they started. Some kid themselves that they can take out the bits they don’t like (usually diet) and still make their destination.GOALS is too arduous.’ People set courses all the time and still fail to reach their goal. making all the right noises. This is usually because they inadvertently set the wrong course and end up at the wrong destination. You might be working extremely hard but are you working in the right direction? I remember the time I wanted to develop a brilliant osoto-gari (a throwing technique in judo). Setting the right course It is easy to say.

I have always prided myself on being a tenacious – even obsessive – trainer. ask the right people. to destruction in fact. presto. but I was practising it wrong. Never mistake activity for progress. I got it. I reached my goal in record time. but my course was off. He knew the right course. in altering one or two minor points. And writing the goal down with an expected time of 52 . I rarely pulled the throw off. when I sparred with other players. because I had been given the right map and wanted to get there badly enough. He looked at my technique and. You could be the hardest worker in the world. I practised hard and daily. but still fail because you are hacking away in the wrong jungle. we’ve established this much. I became brilliant at doing osoto-gari the wrong way. He knew the right way to do osoto-gari. With my limited knowledge I set about achieving my goal. And hey. Then I went to train with Neil Adams (Olympic silver medallist in judo). The destination was set. Consequently. those who are already where you want to be. If you don’t know the way. it only has to be slightly out for you to end up completely wrong.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD instructional videos. I practised osoto-gari thousands of times. In fact. he altered my entire course. The danger of goals Goals are essential. So make sure that you set the right course and be prepared for the sacrifices that the journey demands.

Sometimes we aim low and. but a common attitude nevertheless. If I try for more. He was capable of more. risk of success and risk of change – there is also a hidden risk: Goals can be dangerous. we hit low. 53 . Small goals are fine when they act as stepping-stones to higher ideals. Dave. The next week. So what’s the danger in that? The danger occurs when we don’t set our goals high enough. guess what. My friend Steve is a keen runner. When we set goals. it was double his usual distance. He set himself a goal of five miles. I might not make it. we nearly always do.GOALS arrival is as pivotal as setting the right course.’ Not the sort of mindset that smashes records. one of his friends at the running club. I know I can do five. when we fully intend with all our heart to achieve them. He set five miles on his internal clock and his body fuelled him up for exactly that. He asked Steve to take his place. I think you’ll agree. ‘I’m being realistic. But as well as all the obvious risks of aiming high – the risk of failure. ‘But. Steve was unsure. He didn’t think he could run ten miles. had to pull out of a ten-mile race. The other day he went out for a jog. but they can be very unsatisfactory in themselves.’ he always told me. By four-and-a-half miles he was flagging and every step was an effort. He made five miles but at the final furlong the lad was exhausted.

‘Don’t set your sights so high on the first shot that you become overwhelmed.’ Had Steve gone from a five-mile jog to the London marathon (26 miles) he might well have written a cheque that the bank could not honour. ‘just set your sights on ten. So instead of making his way to the nearest 54 . If you can’t finish it’s not the end of the world.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD ‘Don’t worry. implementing standards that are just beyond our reach does. but he knew he was not burly enough to carry a full-grown bull. but not so high you lose sight of your goal.’ Milo was strong both mentally and physically. So aim higher than you think you can manage. I would say.’ said his friends. ‘Oh yea?’ he replied. Milo the Great There is a wonderful story about Milo the Great. ‘Watch this space. a historical strong man whose life goal was to carry a full-grown bull on his shoulders. killed the ten miles and had a great time doing it. He injected necessity and the organism grew to compensate. If you set your sights too low your body and mind will fuel you accordingly. Paradoxically.’ Dave said. He is now preparing for his first marathon.’ Steve ran the race. Setting achievable goals does not push and stretch our limits. ‘Impossible.

Like Milo. It could be anything.GOALS farmer’s field and trying to winch a horned beast onto his back. and subsequently pyramiding his own strength to match. Milo’s strength grew to compensate. For Milo. Every day Milo would go out into the yard and – after a little warm-up – lift the calf onto his shoulders and walk around with it. picking up the bull was done in pyramidic stages. a college degree or a promotion at work. you should allow your growth to be gradual and organic. By picking up the bull as it grew. he grew with the bull. It isn’t always advisable to try. He used short-term goals (picking up the calf every day) to power him towards his long-term ideal. as the calf matured and fattened. You could use the same principle to buy your dream house. build your business or increase your fitness level. Instead. Milo – to the astonishment of all – could carry the full-grown bull on his shoulders. Many people have bought fabulous homes by 55 . His legs expanded in width and strength and his torso transformed into the shape of a door wedge. rather it might be your business. Day by day. Your bull may not be a hairy creature with horns and a nose-ring (sounds like a girl I once dated). you don’t have to pick up the bull right away. Perhaps your goal is to buy your dream house (with a bull-sized mortgage). Eventually. he went out and bought himself a calf and kept it in his back garden.

56 . sell it and use the profit (plus their savings. It can be done. Hard work? No harder than working your doo-daas off with no goal in mind. It is all done in pyramidic steps. They make their way first to a base camp. when the weather is clement. Others thrive on it. acclimatise and then. When they get within reach of the top they rest. they attempt the peak. they scale to the summit of the mountain. You can jump steps. acclimatise. perhaps) to move up the property ladder towards their dream cottage in the country. I’m not saying that this is the only way. They set themselves daily goals. They buy a small house.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD using the calf/bull principle. aiming to climb x amount of metres by nightfall. but when you do the risk rises proportionately. climb up more than one rung at a time. they may (and often do) exceed their quota. eat. Mountaineers do this to allow themselves recuperation and acclimatisation to new heights. It’s all down to how much risk you can take. Some people crumble when danger comes aboard. If conditions are favourable. on bad days they may not even leave the tent. Goal pyramid You could even build a goal pyramid to chart your steps from short-term to long-term goals. then step by step.

Your whole world will change immeasurably for the better as a consequence. as you might imagine. a man who (they believe) can help them to achieve their individual goals. in their achievement – arriving at our destination is secondary. worried about his health. It was so gradual he hardly noticed. the tenacity. Follow the Yellow Brick Road In the film The Wizard of Oz. gradually started to cut the size of his dinner down a tiny bit at a time and over a long period. He was carrying a belt-busting belly that was getting unhealthy (and unsightly) but he wouldn’t hear of going on a diet. Before he knew it he was eating light and healthy meals and looking and feeling good. the information and the leadership qualities you’ll develop along the way. the Tin Man needs a heart 57 . Dorothy wants to get back home to Kansas. the discipline. the Cowardly Lion wants to find courage. The real value of setting goals is not. Dorothy and her troupe of mates are seeking a common ideal – the Wizard. As the dinner sizes decreased. My mum. The adversity of a hard climb is what forges character. His selfdiscipline wasn’t up to the job.GOALS I remember my mum using this principle to help my dad lose weight. the weight fell off him. The greatest benefit of setting and achieving goals is the skills.

The Scarecrow develops his brain by working out intricate game plans to find and then escape the witch. their dream. What he can and does do is give them the means to achieve their dreams. the Scarecrow a university diploma and Dorothy the knowledge that the power to return home was in her all along. What the Wizard gives them amounts to little more than trinkets. free of charge. in actuality they have. the Tin Man a heart-shaped watch. Whilst each believes they have been given their goal free of charge. The Wizard reluctantly keeps his word.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD and the Scarecrow is desperate for a brain. He sends them on a hunt and promises to help them when they return. After accidentally killing the Wicked Witch of the West (‘I’m melting. Their real goal started to manifest when they committed themselves fully to the task and agreed to pay the toll and take the risks. He can’t. through their journey – first to Oz and then to kill the witch – earned it through their own efforts. the Cowardly Lion develops courage by facing his fears and protecting his friends against the witch and her army of mad. 58 . symbols of their courageous quest. The Tin Man develops a heart through a multitude of kind and charitable acts. Each of them believes that the Wizard will simply give them. flying monkeys. He gives the Cowardly Lion a medal of valour. I’m melting’) they return to Oz. On the journey. But he doesn’t.

When I look at my lofty. I can have anything. we all can. ‘Can I become the kind of person it will take to get it?’ Who we become is far more important than what we get. Whatever your goal.GOALS Goals are as individual as fingerprints and one man’s nirvana is often another man’s nervous breakdown. long-term objective from the safety of my king-sized duvet. If we set our goals to paper and intend them to happen. nothing is beyond us. ‘Can I have this goal’ because I already know I can. I don’t ask myself. Rather I ask myself. there is one thing I have learned and one thing I know: We can achieve anything. mountains will move and rivers will part. 59 .

depression – that we stop to appreciate just what we have. We forget to stop and thank God for all that we have. 60 . It often seems that we don’t really appreciate our lot until it might be taken away from us.Chapter 10 Gratitude: a Bit of Invisible Support Sometimes we get so caught up in the maelstrom of life. all that we have had and all that we will receive in the future. a loss. our health and the love and health of those dear to us. It is only after we hit a snag in life – an illness. I know that I am often guilty of this and it is something that I intend to remedy because gratitude is more vital to our well-being than money or position or prospects. ambition and achievement that we fail to realise what is really important in our lives.

is better than a pound of cure. she could never have sustained herself throughout the day. It’s a bit like filling your car with fuel in the morning in anticipation of the day’s journey. from four until six a. A big part of their daily ritual consists of thanking God for everything they have. mentally and physically – for the day. even – perhaps especially – when we think we don’t. Gandhi and Mother Teresa – I notice that they all start their day with meditation and prayer. They pray preventatively so that they don’t end up in a muddle in the first place. It would be unwise 61 . We all need a bit of invisible support. This is how great people achieve great things. Not only does this morning mediation give them the chance to offer gratitude.GRATITUDE: A BIT OF INVISIBLE SUPPORT When I look at the people I admire – Jesus Christ. but it also gives them the opportunity to fuel-up – spiritually. One ounce of prevention. The spiritually aware are not in the habit of relying entirely upon themselves to achieve great things. Great people don’t get themselves in a muddle (too often) and then run to prayer (like most of us) to get fixed up. but by giving thanks for what they have already received and for what they know they will receive in the future.). Deepak Chopra. They start their day not by asking for more.m. after all. Mother Teresa said that without her morning prayer and meditation (like Deepak Chopra she started early in the day. They rely on God and through Him all things are possible.

but the change only lasts long enough to get them out of the rough and then ‘bang!’. If you are lucky you may end up broken down only yards away from a nearby garage (not too much of an inconvenience). Now if we were able to employ honest perception (‘I know what 62 . You might. ‘I’ll get myself right and then I’ll change (and I mean it this time). less jealous) is far better implemented from the solid clearing of the healthy here-and-now than it is from the out-of-balance. being more patient. all of us) end up falling back into their old ways and the pain of the past is hardly remembered. then before you know it you would be riding the next wave rather than being bashed against the rocks (again). destined-to-arrive tomorrow. courage and a heck of a lot of self-knowledge. They say that pain is a good advisor. What I am suggesting here – and this is as much for me as it is for you – is that the change you are always threatening (better diet. end up broken down miles from anywhere with a long and inconvenient walk to the nearest fuel station. you. But – as the saying intimates – it involves pain. however.’ And then they get themselves right and they change. I don’t know of anyone who has not reached a crisis point at least once in their lives and thought. while the idea is fresh in your mind. insight. It takes discipline. But if you were to start now.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD to just get up and drive your vehicle until it runs out of fuel. they (me. and it is.

‘I’ll get myself right then I’ll change (and I mean it this time’). we could avoid the worst pain by tackling it while it is still just a niggle on the periphery of our knowing. Or you could simply wait (like the last time) to get yourself buried up to the neck in problems and then try and muster the courage to pull yourself back out again. likely with the promise that.GRATITUDE: A BIT OF INVISIBLE SUPPORT needs to be changed’) and a bit of will (‘I am strong enough to make that change’). 63 .

Now I don’t know about you. I have tried all the fad diets. to the size of a small continent. Almost as soon as you lose the pounds (sometimes stones) and your jeans stop straining at the seams. It’s depressing. I presume) – returns with a vengeance and you have to make new holes in your belt. And they all work… but only for a while. but as a man with the propensity to grow.Chapter 11 Have Your Cake and Eat It Go into any bookshop worth its salt and you’ll find a pile of books and magazines offering the latest lose-fat-and-still-eat-chips diet that will allow you – or your money back – to have your cake and eat it. the very same weight – and a bit more (for inflation. isn’t it? 64 . after a two-week holiday in Florida.

I can be good for months at a time.HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT It wouldn’t be so bad but all the really tasty stuff simply oozes fat-gut. though. Then I hit 30. When the weight is off I float around like a featherlight thing in tight fitting tee shirts tucked into bottom-hugging jeans. In fact. nibbling on health biscuits that taste like manila envelopes. All of a sudden the nuts and crisps. At thirty my internal calorie-crunching gizmo switched to a lazy three-day week. As little as a week on a take-away fest leaves me with a skincoloured bum-bag that wobbles in time with my step. My food-abuse period was over. The minute I get a fry-up down my neck. and my weight stays at a comfortable 13 stone nine. the salad and chicken renaissance lay in wait. I take every opportunity 65 . When I was 19 and clothes-line thin I could empty the contents of an industrial fridge without clocking up a single extra number on the bathroom scales. From then on in my weight has gone up and down like a busy lift. sometimes even longer. I only have to look at the biscuit barrel and I grow another chin. my legs start going all Sumo. the beers and curries started to take their toll and I developed what can only be described as a wide-load arse. I was so thin that I wanted to put on weight. weight gain. but my in-a-hurry metabolism burnt calories as quickly as I could extract them from Kit-Kats and kormas.

I have tried them all. high-protein diets that turn your stools to rocks (ouch). And the fruit diet! What’s that all about then? I’ve been on it and no matter how hard I’ve tried I can’t make a grape look or taste like a Malteser! 66 . however. even when the wind is whistling my nipples into biker studs. My world becomes one of chip dinners (I hide away in greasy-Joe cafes). food-combining diets that are so complicated your brain throbs like a hammered thumb and sends you racing to the nearest chippy for a carb/fat/calorie top-up. When I’m thin. My selfesteem drags around behind me like a wedding train. beltless trousers with the top two buttons undone. and beer and puddings that I might as well mould right onto my belly. hidden by trench-coat sweatshirts that obliterate everything from the neck to the knees.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD to remove my top and bare my torso. rationalisation. As I said. take-away curries. Even sex takes a backseat because it involves nakedness and hours of holding in my belly. a dark cloud descends on my day. A man needs his strength after all. And the apparel changes accordingly. high-fibre diets that have you shitting through the eye of a needle. wine. low-carb diets that leave you so hungry you start nicking food off the kids’ plates and snacking on carpet tiles. When the weight is on. my self-esteem rises to the rooftops.

It’s difficult. and you can never let up.HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT So what is the answer? How do I keep my sylph-like physique with all the culinary temptations constantly battling to fatten me up? After 40 years of counting calories. hunting for the fat content on the backs of crisp packets and watching my bungee-belly bounce backwards and forwards from six pack to party seven. I’ve come to the conclusion that disciplined light eating for the rest of my life is the only way to stop me from looking like a doughnut.’ 67 . I’m going to heed my mum’s advice (offered to me when I hit a hefty 16 stone): ‘Walk past that chip shop. Have some of what you want. train every other day and you’ll keep the fat-monster at bay. Geoffrey. I dream that the Hereafter might be a paradoxical universe where Mars Bars and crisp sandwiches are the vital sustenance of life. In the meantime. but not all of what you want. but it works.

This is both exciting and terrifying. complete with cloud-bathing heavens and barrelscraping hells. then looking outside ourselves to praise or 68 . What you strongly intend today you are sure to live out in all your tomorrows. When we are in heaven we call it a fluke or a happy accident. When we are in hell we call it ‘karmic return’ or we talk about ‘spiteful God. Some say (and I agree with them) that intentions are the building blocks of the universe.Chapter 12 Intention There has been much written of late about intention. We are creators of denial.’ The truth is neither. fashioning random realities with our unskilled and unschooled thoughts. Most of us are not well-practised with our intentions so we tend to create our universe accidentally.

if you blame the government. society. Similarly. to blame. It is not their fault that life is shit so they look for someone. You always become a prisoner of those you blame. There is no darker place than the one you’re in when you’re playing the blame game.INTENTION blame when our creation makes us happy or sends us into a dizzy depression. your country. Those who blame do so because (deep down) they are afraid of responsibility. The very act of blaming gives your power over to the object of your blame. This gives them the freedom to practise their intentions until they become expert enough to create something dazzling. It is easier to hunt down a culpable scapegoat than it is to take the blame onto your own shoulders. If you blame God. They blame no one. Those that take responsibility 69 . city or town. This is a weak place to reside because it is so disempowering. People with higher levels of consciousness always place themselves at cause. if you blame your ex-wife or mate or teacher. then you give them the key to your cell and await their leniency. They understand that their reality is one of their own making and if they want to change it they have only to look to the man or woman in the mirror. People with a lower level of consciousness revel in the blame culture. then it means your situation will not change until God favours you. anyone.

So how do you practise intention? 70 . It was only when I took a hard and honest inventory of my life that I realised I was the creator of it all.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD do so because they are excited about the possibilities of creating a new and ever-improved reality. And that is what I did. happiness and material possessions with my very best intentions. I wasn’t exactly sure how. I could learn from my own experience. It was at this point that I got very scared. unhappiness and penury with my very worst. I could become an expert and I could practise as much as I wanted. sometimes concurrently. before I accepted responsibility. whilst at the same time creating violence. And it was at this point that I got very excited. Personally. I resided consecutively. in both worlds. I was excited because I knew I could learn by using my own inadvertent experience as a reference point. wealth. And where the details were foggy I could borrow from the library of information that is currently available on the power of intention. I was scared because although I realised I’d created this juxtaposition of realities. I could trace every good and every bad result back to intentions – or strong and persistent thoughts – that I’d had. illness. That made my reality very unpredictable. In my time I have created health.

Even new science is catching up with theories of Quantum mechanics (see the film. But more than anything else I practised judo. Not just your own intention. I actually lived and breathed judo. it is in the Bhagavad-gita. I drilled and drilled and drilled the techniques until I was expert. Buddhism’s basic tenant is that we create our own universe. if you desire. Once you accept the premise the training can begin. If you don’t at least have an intellectual understanding of your own power then you are doomed to spin in an ever increasing cycle of random creation where life will bring you joy one day and a punch in the eye the next. I talked judo. until I could close my eyes and feel them. the Koran. It is in the Bible. I placed myself in front of world-class teachers. Search out the truth from another source. but the universal intention that you click into when you practise. To become a strong judo player I read everything on judo. and the Tao Te Ching. You practise intention the same way as you would practice anything that you want to become expert in.INTENTION First you have to accept that intention is a creative force. What The Bleep Do We Know or look at Deepak Chopra’s work on the science of intention). with study and diligence. until I was 71 . I watched judo.

If I want to create good health then I intend good health by seeing it. you will get weekend results. you’ll start to see some decent movement. For me. reading it. If you make it your life. The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe by Lynne McTaggart). intention is about everything I do. They think illness. There is nothing like actual hands-on experience to cement a truth in place. any of Deepak Chopra’s works. you will rise rapidly into the higher echelons. or the opportunities to make it. talking it and doing all the things that constitute good health. The Elephant and the Twig. hearing it. You start by investing in the information and instruction. If you practise four or five times a week. 72 . then practise what you have learned and be the proof that it works. If it is wealth I am after. they talk it. I dwell on wealth until I start to draw it. People that make themselves ill practice intention without realising it. watch it and live it until eventually they manifest all the fine and grizzly details in their own bodies. read it. they see and fear illness. Buy the books (my book. If you are a weekend player. Intention is no different. then I do the same thing. attend the seminars (if you don’t invest in you who will?).EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD the techniques and could handle judo players on the international scene. into my life.

It wasn’t always that way. She thought about it all day long. if her mind was so powerful that it could manifest blindness. Interestingly. in a short time. The scan was clear. She had no tumour. as soon as she got the results. she actually started to manifest these symptoms herself. She became so convinced she had a brain tumour that she went blind in her left eye. He was no longer prepared to be an also-ran stand-up comedian dying on stage night after night in 73 .INTENTION I have a friend of a friend who is a very successful woman. She is at the top of her field. how much more could she manifest if she schooled and disciplined her thought and put her intention to work on good things? People that create great wealth click into the same power. She even convinced herself once that she had a brain tumour. She was finally taken into the hospital for a brain scan. Then she had a thought. She read about tumours in her medical books and read articles about the symptoms in medical journals until. There was nothing physically wrong with her. When the actor Jim Carey was going through a very difficult phase as a stand-up comedian he drove up to Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood hills and decided that he was no longer prepared to work for peanuts. sometimes months at a time. the sight in her left eye returned. When she was younger and her mind was undisciplined she was always suffering with psychosomatic illnesses that would often lay her up for weeks.

His intention was so solid that he wrote it down and then never lost the faith until his dream was a reality. So he took his bank book out and wrote himself a cheque for $10 million. And if you intend enough. He was earning $20 million. He was wrong. but he wasn’t earning $10 million. He vowed that he would be earning that amount per film within ten years. Whether you intend to paint the front room or climb Mount Everest. the process is the same. seeing. hearing. feeling. Intention is a very learnable technique. and doing involves thinking. Why not try? 74 . You practise by doing. you can become an authority. smelling and intuiting your intention until your thoughts coagulate and become manifest.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD front of a partisan crowd. Ten years later he was an actor in Hollywood. If you can learn to drive then you can learn to intend.

how exciting. how very fucking invigorating. the next unchartered landscape that we can not only attack but also tell our friends that we are going to attack so that they can flatter us with their admiration. We get a pat on the back. a medal. The elements are conquered. another gruelling. But how brave are we? 75 . How brave. another black belt. It’s good to be brave.Chapter 13 Looking Out. a trophy. Looking In Another marathon. physically-stretching. The praise comes at us like a sickly sweet chocolate waterfall and we let it shower over us. pain-inducing endeavour where we venture out bravely to our furthest limits. We take a little rest then onto the next extreme challenge. admiration from our peers and awards stacked up on our shelves.


Do we choose the fights that we know we can win (even though we tell ourselves how extremely dangerous they are?) Are we guilty of racing out there pretending to look for the unchartered when actually we know that all of it is chartered and – although certainly physically demanding – has been done before? In order to be really brave, to be really extreme, to be really daring and adventurous and to really (I mean really) look death in the eye and take our hearts (and our arses) in our hands, we need never do another climb, race another marathon, face another black belt panel or fight another monster on the nightclub door. In fact, I’d say that if we really want to stop pretending, we don’t need to leave the city that we live in, the town, the road, the street, the house, the room or even our own skin, ever again. If we really want to be brave we just need to close our eyes, stop going out and start going in. Fuck Nanga Parbat, fuck the one-hundred-man kumite, fuck the marathon across the desert or the triathlon across broken glass in bare feet. Fuck all of that because it is old hat, it has all been done. That old parrot of a challenge is dead. It is all boringly predictable compared to the real challenge of going inside and taking a cold, hard, honest look at yourself – and then changing the bits that no longer serve. Actually, even before that it would be a start to admit 76


the fact that the man or woman that you look at in the bathroom mirror every day is deeply flawed. The man or woman with ten black-belt certificates in ten different styles from ten different masters who the outside world thinks is granite tough is not even tough enough to leave the job they hate, the spouse who treats them badly, the city that no longer nourishes them and the habits that bleed them dry because they are frightened of real change. Real change is full of uncertainty. The man who impressed the living shit out of everyone by climbing ten peaks in ten months and who lost ten toes to frostbite is not even strong enough to resist temptation. Instead, he loses his integrity by sleeping with his best mate’s wife. For a five second spurty tingle of cloudy liquid, he loses his soul. Most of us think we are tough but most of us are not even tough enough to deal with the greed and envy in our gut, the panic and fear in our chest, the repressed rage that is hooked and fish-boned into the flesh of our throats or the jealousy that rages in our heads. We feel tough but we can’t control what we eat and what we drink and what we ingest. We feel strong yet we let our thoughts kick sand in our faces. We feel manly and yet we fear to cry. We claim power and yet we lack even the power to change. So we go out, we do courses, we listen to lectures, we take yoga (five different styles), we lift weights, 77


or go to step class or learn Qui Gung or Tai Chi. We read the Bible, we devour the I-Ching or memorise the Bhagavad-gita. When we feel spiritual we quote Lao Tzu and when we feel angry we fire invectives from Sun Tzu. We talk about the Upanishads (‘What, you haven’t read the Upanishads?’), we meditate, contemplate, whirl like a dervish, chant, have homeopathy, get our feet massaged, have our scalps fingered by a dark-skinned chip fryer from Bolton, do the tarot, have our runes read, visit spiritual healers, sun worship, go on a fucking retreat and talk to fucking trees. We go out and we do it all. And that’s the point. We are going out but we’re not going in. Out there is the path that is so well-travelled that the ground is flat. There is only one path that is not only less travelled, but not fucking travelled at all. That is that one true path that leads us into the murky quarry, the slushy cerebral dumping ground where the decomposing (but still very alive) bodies of our pasts lie waiting not only for their reckoning, not only for their release date, not only for their say but for their redemption. It is hard to look at what you did, what was done to you, how you were treated and how you treated others. It is hard to look the many versions of the old you in the eye and say, ‘Actually, I don’t like you. I don’t like what you are, what you did. I don’t like what you didn’t do. I don’t like what you became. 78

that is a fearsome one-hundredman kumite (each opponent a version of the old you with a grudge to bear and a bloody axe to grind). ‘I forgive you. That’s a mountain to climb. 79 . Climb the mountain if it is a workout you are looking for. But if you really want peace. stop working out and start working in. I don’t understand you.LOOKING OUT.’ Do the marathon if it serves you. you have to face them and say. I forgive them. I let them go. I let me (all of me) go.’ That’s difficult. To ensure the release of these trapped entities you don’t just have to acknowledge them and look them in the eye. but it gets even harder. LOOKING IN I don’t like what you allowed yourself to become.

He said he liked doing the work that frightened him. Most of us spend our days looking for comfort and avoiding discomfort. The work that scared him most was the work he wanted to do. In fact. he didn’t do it because fear was the key ingredient in making great television (or great anything). Ray Winstone said a similar thing to me when we were filming Bouncer. he said it was fear. he said that if the work didn’t scare the crap out of him. When I asked Paul what it was that most drew him to a new project. This means that we avoid fear at all costs. Paul Abbot. The challenge to him and to Paul was not in just facing down the 80 .Chapter 14 Night-travellers I thought you might be interested in a conversation I had at the weekend with my writer friend.

They do this because (as Rumi said) the moon shines on night-travellers. The people who see red lights as green. those who lean into the sharp edges are the very people that become ultra successful. They learn to love the adrenalin and they turn that raw energy into success. people who go into the night and hunt down their fears. which means we stop growing. It is only that they change their perception of fear. You might be surprised to find that fear is not the enemy you always thought it to be. what it is that you are avoiding? What is it that you fear? Maybe now is the time to be brave and turn into the dark. They feel it just the same. take a step towards it. You may be even more surprised to find that buried within that fear is a 81 . People like Paul and Ray are what the poet Rumi called ‘night-travellers’.NIGHT-TRAVELLERS fear. It is not that these people do not feel fear. break off its four corners or – if you are really courageous – dive into it head first and see what happens. sometimes even more acutely than everyone else. Because of this we avoid things that frighten us. Most of us walk around thinking that we are the only people in the world who feel fear. So. but in using the fear as alchemistic base metal to make gold. creep up on it. Light and knowledge are given to those brave enough to turn and face their fears.

Be brazen. Be brave. Start now. that molten metal of fear inside you turns to gold. Make the decision. Fear feeds on your terror.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD golden nugget of information that can’t be found anywhere else on this earth. Then watch your threedimensional demon turn into a two-dimensional cartoon and quickly disappear. And when the fear rears its ugly head. look it in the eye and dare it to do its worst. It is nourished by those who turn and run. Courage is the killer of weeds like fear. When you stand and endure. Be a night-traveller! 82 .

After the session he asked me where he had gone wrong. and very fit.Chapter 15 Reciprocal Returns The lad that was visiting my master class was young. I watched him fight three or four times and all I could see was that 83 . I wasn’t sure. he was completely out of his depth. I could tell by his face (dispirited). defeated walk) and his eyes (they hit the ground like dropped marbles) that he’d expected a little more of himself. He knew (he later confided) that my class was tough and that the fighters were top drawer but he thought he might at least be able to hold his own. He knew his way around the mat as far as the ground work was concerned but he was getting tapped out again and again by a succession of my instructors. Not only was he getting tapped out. maybe 22. his gait (shoulders hunched. To be frank.

Footballers who train on a Wednesday and play on a Sunday but dream of kicking a premiership ball in front of 50. ‘You are training twice a week.’ I remember thinking: Twice a week! Without fail! I smiled. I see the same attitude in all walks of life. I was confused so I decided to do a bit of probing. Fair-weather golfers who get their clubs out every summer and then wonder why their handicap remains a handicap.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD he was out-gunned by better players than himself. The writing world (similarly) is full of part-time hacks that throw out a 84 .’ I told him. He was training recreationally and expecting professional results. ‘How often do you train?’ I asked. ‘Oh.000 screaming fans on a Saturday afternoon. these guys are training twice a day. By Monday night they’ve already done your week’s quota of training. This problem does not just confine itself to the martial arts.’ he replied (a little too keenly) ‘I train twice a week. Painters who imagine that three hours at the easel is going to turn them into the next David Hockney. This is a bit like planting cabbage in your garden and expecting roses in the summer. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why there was such a disparity between his ability and that of my people. Without fail. ‘Well that’s your problem. hoping that his training routine might shed some light on the issue.’ My visiting martial artist was making the same mistake as many.

And when it doesn’t materialise they look outside of themselves and blame. It means that you can have anything if you are prepared to do the work and handle the pressure. This is good news and bad. The returns are entirely reciprocal. The law of reciprocal returns is very exciting. banging in the minimal investment and then sitting around waiting for the floodgates of great returns to open up for them. And its mandate is very clear: Step up. Good because it means that anyone who invests their time diligently can expect great returns.RECIPROCAL RETURNS weekend script and then bitch because Hollywood does not recognise their genius. bad news because those that want to change what they are getting without changing what they are giving have a lot of stepping up to do. This (I have found) is a universe that gives out what it gets in. I am amazed by the amount of people I see who are treading water. or shut up! 85 . People want gain without pain. profit without investment and reward without risk.

an idea. We can all endure suffering if we know why. a medicine. Nietzsche said that if we know the why we can endure almost anything. As a man that has suffered a lot I am no different to anyone else. so I don’t really want to spend any of it suffering unless I can profit from the experience. if my suffering is unavoidable. I want my suffering to be for a reason.Chapter 16 Suffering We are all suffering. a premise. something – a word. There is a fair chance that you are suffering right now and are looking for balm. maybe one century if I am blessed. then I at least want to make sense of it. a sentence. If I can’t do this. maybe a chant – that might help ease your pain. My sojourn on this globe is not a long one. I want to understand the nature of my suffering and replace it with a heavy dose of peace. 86 .

The suffering that we bring on ourselves. Have a good look at the discomfort that resides there. it could lead us into a long life of unnecessary pain. I found no such relief (other than the temporary inspiration that good information affords). left my country. there are two kinds of suffering. denial) we might never know what the suffering means. in books or conversations with gurus. Instead I found direction in the guise of a finger that pointed not East. and the suffering that is inflicted up on us by circumstance. Every time I hide I am advised to try visibility instead. I (like most) left my city. we should (if at all possible) eradicate. actually even left my body in search of the pain panacea. Every time I try to run I am encouraged to wait and see. From my limited understanding. back to my house. not to the temples of Tibet or the churches of Rome. Every time I go out I am directed back in. sex. The suffering that we inflict on ourselves. my body. but back to Coventry. my garden. or worse still.SUFFERING In my bid for knowledge. Go inside. And if we keep covering the message with artificial blankets (painkillers. it pointed back to that dark nothingness that pervades all things when I close my eyes. Deeper still. drugs. Outside. There is no joy and little 87 . drink. Why? Because suffering is the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong. That never knowing could kill us.

wealth and happiness lies not with the hospitals and doctors. and if you can stop your negative thoughts. make us jealous. under-educated. a PHD. If your suffering is health related. why not make it your life’s mission to understand your body. Become an expert. become the most 88 . To stop this kind of suffering. an MA. depressed. perhaps because we are too lazy to change. no one can let us down. Do we enjoy being a martyr to our suffering? At one time or another I have fallen into all of these categories. do a degree. No one can offend us. The moment we rely on outside forces for our well-being. cheat us. poor. angry. fat or unfit. find out how to get well and stay well. we become their prisoners. greedy. Nearly all suffering can be traced back to the self.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD gain in suffering unnecessarily. The responsibility for my health. not with the government and certainly not with other people. If you are really honest. if you own everything. make us envious. we need clinical self-honesty. But I have since learned to recognise that I am the centre of my universe. disappoint us. These are all circumstances that we readily accept. no one can abandon us. most of your suffering will end. perhaps because we do not know any better. The responsibility lies with you. if you place yourself at cause and expect nothing from anyone.

Don’t blame the conglomerates for stealing too much of the pie. make it your life’s work to understand the cerebral schematic and put that information to work for you. you ease the suffering of all those who find themselves in your situation. So get out there. It can be done. These options are open to everyone. Don’t blame any outside forces. The information is all out there. make that information public so that you not only ease your own suffering. If your suffering is economic. Don’t blame the government because of the poor minimum wage. Blame is the predictable response of the masses and once employed it knows no end. much of it free. then put that information into use and be the proof that it works. There are no more heroes. History is brimming 89 . who do you think is going to change your situation if you don’t? There is no one coming to your rescue. Study economics. Scour the internet.SUFFERING knowledgable person on the planet with regards to your health. earn your worth and ease your suffering. lectures and courses. You need to hunt it down. Study business and make yourself a man of great economic knowledge. But information will not drop out of the sky. Talk to the psychologically robust. put yourself into an apprenticeship with the wealthy and the rich. If your suffering is mental. ask them their secrets. It has been done. invest in books. In fact.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD with folks that have taken responsibility for their own suffering and have not only succeeded in easing their pain. the cook pushed it back in with the ladle and said. Austrian neurologist Viktor Frankl said that all suffering is relative. I am boiling you to make you sweet. Whether you are lying in bed sweating and manically depressed at three a. if you are wise enough to look inside rather than outside. In fact. What I have learned from my suffering is that I don’t like it much. I am going to learn as much from it as I can. Much of the greatest stuff I have learned in the last 46 years has come directly from periods of suffering. ‘You think I’m torturing you.’ 90 . But if I can’t get out of it immediately. or you are a Holocaust survivor (like him). The Sufi poet Rumi said that the chickpea only got its flavour from being boiled in the pot. It has been proven by psychologists that the symptoms of manic depression can be as frightening to the sufferer as climbing out of a dug-out with a bayonet to engage in mortal combat.m. your suffering will feel as though it knows no depths. I’m not. I would say that personal development is a natural by-product of enduring pain. When it tried to jump out to escape its suffering. that is.. but have become massively successful at the same time.

again and again. that we have the opportunity in our darkest moments to reach a higher consciousness through endurance. they offer you great secrets. Right now if you can. Do not turn away. Pain is a great adviser. He said that there is great liberty in suffering. Sometimes you can’t. My experiences have led me to the same conclusion. if you are brave enough to do that. The answer is always hidden within the problem. Suffering is wise counsel. Take responsibility. you will find yourself back in the middle of your suffering. If you are brave enough to look closely at them. we all tend to look for an escape. But heed the advise on offer.SUFFERING When we are suffering. until you get it. Handle it. If there is a way out. make decisions. but you endure it stoically while actively looking for a solution. change and adapt. If you go into your pain. Do what is necessary. Once you are in possession of the vital information you need. Frankl suggests doing something radical. my recommendation is that you take it. In these circumstances. Your suffering wants you to see something. You must be worthy of your suffering. If you don’t. to sit in it and examine it minutely. Address it. It is an opportunity offered to few people. but leave it behind. This doesn’t mean that you just accept suffering. then the 91 . leave your suffering behind.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD self-inflicted suffering will disappear (because it only feeds on fear). you will draw assistance from every living corner of the universe. Your life-imposed suffering can offer you transcendence. Suffering ceases to be suffering when we truly lose our fear of suffering. Once you take responsibility for yourself. 92 . No one can help you with this. It’s up to you.

the fight always ended up very close and personal. Yet all around me there were martial artists practising 93 . There was rarely any room for manoeuvre. the thing that struck me most (scared the shit out of me actually) was how restrictive a real confrontation is when it comes to space. I specialised in punching.Chapter 17 The Art of Restriction When I first started working as a club doorman all those years ago. because punching is the range most consistently available in a real fight and. pugilism suited me. I realised way back then that in a fight you very rarely had more than 18 inches of space to work in. This is why (and when) I started to experiment with very close range combat. culturally. It didn’t seem to matter whether you were fighting on four acres of mown grass or three-square-feet of pissy pub toilet.

a toilet cubicle or a farmer’s field. I developed what I called ‘restrictive training. tension and stiffness completely impede any power. We started to employ joints (the more the better) in the technique. From restricted positions you are unable to employ hip twist or use momentum to garner power. And you do. I was able to draw an explosion of power from (seemingly) nothing. for me and for anyone else interested in taking it to the concrete. kneeling positions. This restriction forces you to ‘find’ something else. etc. with their backs against the wall – from anywhere that massively restricted their movements.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD in a range of three feet or more and using techniques that would not be possible in a live encounter.). even the most restrictive. from on their backs. Whether I was in a car or a phone booth. I encouraged my students to punch from seated positions (floor. I could summon tremendous power and explosion without even moving my feet. Very quickly.’ By using this technique I was able to summon instant power from any position and at any range. Because of restriction of movement and space. their bellies. To try to mend this gaping hole in contemporary combat. so that (for instance) if I was in a phone booth or a toilet cubicle or on a packed dance floor. we started to develop massive relaxation through necessity. And then there was 94 . When you have no range of movement. chair.

It would be no exaggeration to say that I get people punching twice as hard within one session using this method.’ It has as many names as there are cultures. Personally I don’t want to place a name to it or throw a shroud of mystique around it. I can’t claim to know what the energy is other than an accident. You won’t find it in a book or on a tape or even in a class. Restrictive training helps you to become accident prone. It works so well that folks have to start pulling their punches because the power they are generating is too much for their bones (they start picking up injuries) and too much for the bones of their opponents. What I really love about it is the fact that it enables you to view life restrictions from a totally different and positive perspective. an indefinable energy. people become big hitters much faster than normal. an explosion at the end of the technique that cannot be brought or bartered.THE ART OF RESTRICTION intent. one of the first things that starts to grow when space is at a premium.’ the Japanese ‘qui. But being able to punch hard is not what excites me about restrictive training. The Chinese call it ‘chi. Then there is that certain something that only restriction training can develop. Not only does restrictive training force people to find some other source of power than the one that they normally employ. it also acts as an accelerator. Just as restriction can trigger 95 . You realise very quickly that intent of power is power.


the release of chi in physical training so can restriction in life (if viewed correctly) enable you to discover a reservoir of hitherto untapped power. Lance Armstrong was given a life-threatening restriction called cancer. He had a choice. Lie down and take it and probably die within a year, or find something that would not only enable him to heal, but also give him the power to win the Tour de France an unprecedented eight times. Do you know that he was so dominant in the Tour that the organisers changed the route several times to give the other riders a chance at winning? I was bullied at school and suffered badly from depression. I had a choice. Accept this and live a life of mediocrity and fear, or find something inside me, some force, some power that would not only elevate me above my playground tormentors, but also take me to the world stage in martial arts and in writing. Everyone reading this is restricted in one way or another. It might be a health issue or a relationship problem, it might be money or fear. Your restriction could be that you are without direction or hope. If you are like most people (I hope you are not), you are probably looking outside of yourself for someone to blame. If you have the courage to stop projecting and look inside youself you might be surprised to find that there is an infinite amount of power available to you within the very restriction you are trying to escape. 96


Many people (I count myself as one of them) go into life and search out restriction in order that they might grow. They seek out tough martial arts schools where they are at the bottom of the class, difficult jobs where they feel out of their depth, situations that scare them, places (inside and out) that expose their cracks. Some people are really brave and restrict themselves with the little things that make the biggest difference – things like diet, personal discipline, counselling, and psychotherapy. Others (and I also include myself in this group) have no need to go in search of restriction because restriction has been thrust upon them by illness, money or family problems. Either way, your route to the stars is not to turn your back on restriction and kick and scream and wish it gone, but rather it is to turn into it, grab your spade of courage and dig deep. Somewhere within the problem you are facing right now is the answer that you have been looking for your whole life.


Chapter 18

The Blame Trap
As a species we have the power to change the world (certainly our own world). Of this I have no doubt. In fact, I am the living embodiment of my ‘live-it-now and do-it-all’ philosophy. I live my life in the creation business. I create my world. I love every minute of it. Thus far I have managed to make manifest every desire I have set my intention on. This is not meant to sound smug. I see myself as a very ordinary person who has managed to liberate himself from a life of unnecessary toil. If I can do it, believe me, anyone can. I measure my accomplishment not by the balance in my bank (though lots of noughts can be very pleasing), but by the fact that when I get up in the morning and when I go to bed at night, I feel happy. That’s what makes me a success. 98

is very subjective. ‘Is this what I really want to do with my life?’ This is especially true if you feel you have no other choice. If you can’t do what you want to do because you wife says so. It is probably the most over-used and certainly the most disempowering combination of words you could ever make the mistake of employing. This very statement. you 99 . one I used (to death) as a younger man. the kids. you give her all your power. of course. circumstance or your upbringing. their wife. People are forever telling me that they would love to write. It does exactly what it says on the tin. or to teach but they can’t because their life. is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Success. the mortgage. their circumstances – even God – won’t allow it. their environment. you’re stuck where you are. As an adult that is exactly what puts bread on my table from one day to the next. That’s when you find yourself thinking. That means that until she says yes.THE BLAME TRAP As a child I always dreamed of making my living as a writer. to sculpt. If you blame the environment. It’s when you spend your life doing the things you don’t like that the Monday morning feeling stretches through until Friday afternoon and Sundays are a dread because they precede Monday. Your idea of nirvana may be – and very likely is – entirely different from mine. As long as what you do makes you happy then it would be fair to say you are a success. to garden.

The reason I know this is because I have fallen into the same trap more times than I care to remember. blame and self-pity. it means that. I hated my lot but. If you believe you are powerless (the moment you fall into the blame trap you are powerless). and by extension. As a fledgling. if they don’t have to drag you away from the office kicking and screaming at the end of each day because you want to do more. You probably spend two thirds (at least) of your waking life at work. Admit ownership of your future then set about building a palatial existence that makes you happy. Take back the responsibility for your own creative power. then by definition you are exactly that. Two-thirds! Now if you don’t love the bones off your job. you’re glued to mediocrity. Think about the job you do for one moment. I spent my days wallowing in procrastination. ‘Why am I there?’ Just hope that your first answer is not. And. my lot was never my fault (is it ever?) The answer is as simple as a Greek drama. if you are not inspired to the point of exhilaration about the nuts and bolts of your current employment. ‘The money!’ 100 . again.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD give all your power over to these inanimates. It takes bollocks of cast-iron to take the reins but if you want to trail-blaze then riding shotgun is not where it’s at. until they favour you. makes all those you love happy also. of course. then you have to ask yourself.

I don’t want to be stuck in the middle of some cornflake-size comfort zone. I agree. it has to be hard. I love being overwhelmed. But I like unconventional. I thrive on the unpredictability and (if I am being honest here). when you love what you do it stops being work and becomes fun. for sure. unpredictable definitely. sweeping around a metaphoric lathe.THE BLAME TRAP I am emphatic about this message so please don’t think me conceited when I tell you that I love my life. Carrying a hod on a building site is back-breakingly hard. working your brain into mush 101 . and sometimes it scares the living shit out of me. ‘Yea. I want to be out there experiencing everything. I have become comfortable with discomfort because discomfort is a sign that I am growing. Now I enjoy my life so much I don’t want to sleep at night. You can’t temper a blade without putting it through a forge. My working life is unconventional certainly. I like being scared.’ you might say. It wasn’t always this way. What’s the use of a blue ribbon when you haven’t even run the race? It is difficult. I love being me. but please. I spent the first half of my life living other people’s idea of normal. let’s keep things in perspective here. I hated it to pieces. I want to be precariously balanced on some craggy precipice where I can see it all. even out of my depth. You see.’ Of course it’s hard. ‘but (the obligatory BUT) it’s really hard.

Any job. you can sit down at the end of another satisfying day and think. you are right. when you are hacking away in the right jungle. It’s what we do on a daily basis.) If we don’t like it. (Oh yes we are. Someone dead famous (so famous I can’t remember his name) once said (and he was right). At least when your sweat is vocational. we have the God-given power to reinvent ourselves. especially the ones you despise.’ We are where we are in life through choice.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD on a computer everyday can be hard with a capital H. ‘If you think you can or you think you can’t. We all know about hard. even if it is just the fact that we do not choose to change where we are.’ 102 . The moment we think that we lack this power our thoughts make it so. ‘This is what I really want to do with my life. that entails bargaining two-thirds of your life just to make the mortgage is harder than a big bag of hard things.

Chapter 19 The Pornographic Wasp If I told you that it was a wasp that taught me the dangers of pornography you’d probably accuse me of being a honeycomb short of the full hive. Sometimes it completely disempowers me. I am highly aroused by it because it is innate. but it is true. it is my genes. I do like pornography. So I don’t watch it anymore. well. I haven’t for many years. I don’t read it. it drains my energy. Let’s say that I am highly aroused by pornography. Before I recount the lesson. I don’t really like it because. In fact. Actually that is not entirely accurate. I have a confession to make. I don’t entertain it at all. But I don’t judge it either. I let it go around about the same time that I stopped drinking alcohol. I don’t like porn because it is an addiction and 103 . like all addictions.

and I tackled (and continue to tackle) my senses through the deliberate slaughter of my addictions. Those who are heavily addicted are prisoners to their addiction. I won’t be weak neither will I be prisoner to my senses. 104 . all our wealth is locked into our addictions. who used this method of abstention to change the course of human history (no less). some people have them all. He believed that each of us has one major addiction and that when you closed the door to that one. Killing your addictions opens the door to freedom. The first and best and most immediate way to control the self is via the senses. At the time of his death he had some three hundred million followers. And when you controlled yourself you literally controlled the world. The Kabbalah teaches us that all our power. I want to be strong and I want to be free. it is all about mastering my body and mind through the control of self (all growth starts with the self). and when we kill those addictions we win our power back. And when we have our power back we can do anything we like with it. So my issue with pornography is neither a moral nor ethical one. For me.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD addictions are prisons for the weak of will. you closed the door to all your addictions. Most people are infected with at least one of these.) It is a trick that I learned from Gandhi. pornography and people pleasing. (Our main addictions in this society are drugs. gambling. alcohol.

you have to start asking yourself a few questions. I’d go into book shops to purchase works on philosophy. I always justified it to myself as ‘just something blokes did’ until my appetite grew more and more controlling and started to threaten my integrity. psychology and spirituality and suddenly find myself in the erotica section flicking though the pages of porn made to look like art. It got so that it was difficult for me to walk down the street without checking out (and imagining what I might do with) the curves of every shapely female that happened to pass by. When you find yourself doing things against your own will.THE PORNOGRAPHIC WASP This is what my friend the wasp taught me. It is small wonder then that people who initially indulge light flirtation with porn quickly progress to the hardcore. The question I asked myself was. each injection needs to be stronger and sooner than the last to get the same buzz. mutations that no longer resemble the procreational act of intercourse with a loving partner. ‘Is this something I can indulge or will it always be an addiction looking for a host?’ We all 105 . Like most people. Like any drug you indulge. often dangerous. I convinced myself that a little bit of porn was OK as long as I kept control of it. But with something as powerful as sex (especially for the sexually-profligate male who has about a million years of procreational conditioning in his genes) moderation (I believe) is an untenable philosophy.

but deep down we know that really we can’t.’ Deep down I knew that the little bit was getting bigger and bigger.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD think we can indulge and flirt around the edges of our addictions. So I put down the empty glass. Their flippancy has (or will) cost them dearly. It is a true story. I’d just indulged in a porn fest (even though I really didn’t want to) and was feeling… controlled. I kept rationlising and telling myself that ‘a little bit won’t do you any harm. I felt shit afterwards. Whilst I am not saying that porn will kill you. When I opened my eyes 106 . The urge came on. Many famous folks have ruined their careers. Because I no longer felt that I had a choice in the matter. closed my eyes and asked for a sign. I am saying that it will imprison you (whilst letting you think that you are still free). It had become a habitual cycle. It needed to be stopped. This is not a metaphor. Some lost their jobs. because an addiction that is alive is always an addiction that is a threat. I have many friends who have not given their addictions the respect they demand. their health and their relationships because a flirtation with fire set light to their whole lives. I knew that I wanted to lose this addiction but I just couldn’t find enough reason to stop. I indulged it. I sat in my garden drinking a fruit juice and I did what I always do when I need an honest answer. others their liberty. And weak. many their lives. And this is where the wasp comes in.

each time more confident. He was up to his little knees in juice and could not lift himself back out. He stood right in the middle of it and drank and drank and – started to drown. landed. I got the message.THE PORNOGRAPHIC WASP there was a wasp hovering just above my glass. When he returned the third time he was more confident. each time staying a little longer. I never indulged my addiction again. 107 . He flew straight into the glass. flew off. each time going a little deeper into the glass and each time drinking in a little more than the last. stole a residue of my fruit juice and flew away. The small indulgence had quickly turned into a life-threatening addiction. Arrogant now. he hovered. my wasp flew straight to the bottom of the glass where there was a pool of thick juice. Within a few brief seconds the wasp was back. had a look around. He was still being careful. I smiled as I watched the wasp return again and again. took several globs of juice and. I tipped the glass so that the wasp – having kindly passed on its wisdom to me – could fly away to live another day. It landed briefly on the glass. took a glob of juice from just inside the glass and flew away again. Until the final time. when he was ready.

Chapter 20

The Power of Books
To my pleasure, I have discovered the hidden power of books. What we need to help us rise above the crowd is information. Actually, I stand corrected. I know plenty of people with information by the bucketload but for whatever reason they do not use it. I also know many people who use the information they have, but use it wrongly. Aspiring to achieve wisdom is the correct way to use information. One of the best ways to collect information (and of course inspiration and aspiration) is books. When I spend thousands of pounds on books, I consider it an investment in me, the person most likely to get me where I want to be. In books, we have the opportunity to access the knowledge of a thousand life times and assimilate it until it becomes us. I am 108


the living embodiment of what I have experienced and a big part of what I have experienced has been gained through the medium of reading. I always tell my little lad (when he is struggling to get into a book) that readers are leaders. Small libraries make great men. It is something that I believe emphatically. I have yet to meet a hugely successful person that wasn’t a voracious reader. I even took a speed-reading course so that I could get through more material. It’s all out there just waiting for you, and if you go to a public library, it’s absolutely free. Can you imagine that, all that knowledge, all the secrets, all that information for the price of a few beers and a curry? I’ve spent up to £50 on a single book if it was the one that I was looking for. People often say that the only way out of the rat race is through football or sport or pure luck. It’s not true. The best way out is through the library. Mention any famous name and I’ll almost guarantee that you’ll be able to find their whole life – highs, lows, successes, failures, likes and dislikes, and the secrets to their success – between the pages of a library book. Now if that is not offering it all up on a plate for your inspiration, I don’t know what is. I find it absolutely incredible that you can go into any bookshop (or even the Internet) and buy the lives of the greatest men and women in history. You can find out why and how single individuals changed the course of history. 109


One man, William Wallace, witnessed the slaughter of a whole village of people and decided that he was going to do something about it. He told his wife. She said, ‘But you’re only one man.’ That one man changed the course of history with his strength and courage. Have you read about this great and saintly woman, Mother Teresa? She cared for thousands and touched the hearts of millions. Just an ordinary girl who did extraordinary things; a village girl who touched the whole planet. What about the courage of Churchill, the tenacity of Thatcher, the wisdom of the Dalai Lama, the power and love of Sai Baba, the focus and dreams of Bill Gates, the rise and fall of Bonaparte? The list is absolutely endless. And they are all there waiting in books to point you in the right direction. All these extraordinary men and women saying, ‘Let me tell you what I’ve learned in my life.’ What an incredible opportunity. I am sitting here with a book of drawings by Saul Steinberg staring up at me. Steinberg isn’t dead; he is alive and kicking in my office. He sat here, alive in his work, saying, ‘What can I do for you Geoff? What can I teach you about my life through my work? Ask me, I’m here.’ Did you know that Escher lives with me? You’re damn right he does! And he only cost me about 20 quid. It was an absolute steal, I have to tell you. A steal. He is here with me now. All his drawings 110

Geoff. The book cost eight pounds. There wasn’t a day when I didn’t think. “Is this any good?”’ Escher has taught me that insecurity driven into your work is what makes it great. ‘Listen. ‘I’ve absolutely no reason to moan about the “success” of my work. can feel insecure. I spend more than that on car parking in a single week. I remember first looking at his work and being filled with awe. I’d never have believed that he would have any insecurities at all about this great art. ‘we all feel insecure at times. a desperate sense of general failure. The very fact that the great Escher can doubt his own work. Where do these crazy feelings come from?’ I have Gandhi’s life story in front of me. The price was so little that I am almost embarrassed to mention it. nor about the lack of ideas for there are plenty of them. An ordinary person can reach the stars. And yet I’m plagued by an immense feeling of inferiority. can feel like giving it all up. But in his book he said.THE POWER OF BOOKS and all his words. I went on to become a world-renowned artist but there wasn’t a day when I didn’t doubt my work. Yet this one book has given me more direction and more hope than any amount of money could have. Mr Gandhi has taken 111 . makes me feel that I am not on my own and that it is OK to have bad days.’ he tells me. When I am feeling a little insecure about my work he is there to help me.

That’s why books were invented. That one single thing is ‘me. only so many lessons we can learn with the finite years that we are allotted. These people have left their stories. Take what it was that made them legendary and make it a part of you. you can become the manifestation of a thousand great people. You can take a thousand great people and learn the lessons they gleaned from their lives. Can you imagine that? And reading his book taught me that I could.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD me behind the scenes of his life and shown me the rights and the wrongs. It’s not enough time really. There are only so many things we can learn in one lifetime. he has taught me that faith in yourself and your God means immortality. their ‘instructions for life’ so that you can get onto the fast track. and he made loads of mistakes along the way. He has shown me that I only have to master one single thing in my life and I can have anything I want. If you discipline yourself and get a lot of reading done. so that you don’t have to do the thousands of experiments they had to do to learn what they learned. you could. Once you have acquired this 112 . He has given me the secret to inner power.’ Gandhi learned how to lead himself. By doing so he built up a personal following of over three hundred million people. and we all could do exactly the same thing. This also means that nothing is beyond you once you decide to ride the bull.

If you make reading a habit. The biographies of great people are simply that. read the stories. learn the lessons and put them into action. street maps to life. If you wanted to get around London the best thing to do would be to buy a street map. It’s great. 113 . it’ll be the best habit you ever make. It’s so wonderful. All you have to do is get out there and buy the books. They have departed to another plane and left you the treasure maps.THE POWER OF BOOKS knowledge you can use it to power your own journey of discovery.

they direct.Chapter 21 The Reciprocal Universe I spoke with a guy the other day who told me that his passion was directing film. It was all he wanted to do. He wanted to direct so he directed. He worked a nine-to-five job that bored him completely. He wanted to be a director so he got together with a few mates and a camera and directed a bunch of short films that got him noticed. Take Shane Meadows. I knew he was kidding himself. He was not a member of any film groups. He lived and breathed directing. All he did was talk. He did not wait for the grants or the permissions or the favours or the 114 . Directors do not talk. He wasn’t directing. Today he is one of the most respected and sought after directors in Britain. He did not direct his own films on the weekends.

Neither was it the time or the tides. He has 115 . Writers do not talk a good script. He tells me that he lives and breathes writing. the tea boy and the runners have read the first draft) they go away and write it again and again and again until it positively shimmers. he is going to invest in a course. he got his mates and he got busy making films. That is what directors do. a computer and maybe a trip to Cannes where he could pitch his film idea and get the funds he needs to sit and write the great work that he has in him.THE RECIPROCAL UNIVERSE fates. He got a camera. It was only the money that was holding him back. They sit on their arses and bleed into their computers until they have 120 pages (that will need to be paired painfully down to 90) of carefully crafted prose. he said. I know that my friend is not a real writer because he throws something together over a weekend and blames the fates when it comes back unread and unwanted. the actors. the financers. the producer. Writing is his life. I have a friend who wants to write. As soon as his money situation is better. It was simply the fact that he was not a writer because writers write. But it was not the cash that was stopping him. I have another friend (several actually) who wants to make a splash in the world of martial arts. the designer. Then (after the director.

He is not really a martial artist with something big to say to the world. But he knows deep down (as I know) that the circumstances will never quite favour him. He thinks about training in the US with the Machado brothers (but it’s too dear). Brazil will always be too far a trip and his wife will never agree to Japan. They create their own favour. 116 . The universe is touchsensitive to our intentions. If only he was as lucky as me and was able to give up his job and train full-time he felt sure that he could hit the world stage. but because my friend does not really want them enough. He is just a man with a bag of excuses that get ever more diverse and inventive. the time. They live and they breathe it. whenever and wherever they can. with the best folks on the planet. And this is not because any of these things are not possible. They move with such force that the whole universe is forced to react and create their dream.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD something big to say (he says) and the minute the circumstances are right (perhaps next year?) he will say it. next week or next year. It waits only for you. He dreams of going to Brazil to train with the Gracie family (but its too far). they find the money. There will never be enough money to purchase tutelage from the Gracies. Martial artists train. He might even do a little stint in Japan (but his wife isn’t keen). the permission. Let me tell you that it does not wait for tomorrow.

like the millions before. Sit and write. Whatever it is that you have been dreaming of. All growth has a kernel of discomfort. GOOD. Start the writing class that has been in your mind forever. a red light for the majority. But nothing will move until you move. if the very thought of acting makes you quiver with fear. serendipity only manifests when we take up our positions and act. Set a deadline date to make your first film. Nutrients do not mobilise until the seed of intention is planted. make it real now. Discomfort is good.THE RECIPROCAL UNIVERSE So let me ask you this: When are you going to make a move? When are you going to command the fates to do your bidding? When are you going to wave your baton of intention and orchestrate the universe? Don’t wait like the masses for tomorrow. it does not exist. Now is the time to act. become the dust of a generation that died with their best music still in them. go and run. but for the minority – those with spunk and drive and ambition – discomfort is a green light. fate does not shape circumstance without action. And if you are scared. Jump and a net will appear. 117 . Book yourself on that directing course you always wanted to do. before you.

‘There is no Land Rover. There is no Land Rover.’ It keeps me sane. It keeps me on track. There is… NO LAND ROVER. You’ve just hiked goodness knows how many miles 118 . Picture the scene. It stops me from being fooled into resting up and celebrating too soon. loosening my helmet straps before the fight is won. ‘There is no Land Rover. You are on selection for the SAS.’ I say it over and over again in my mind with the rhythm of a metronome. There is no… ’ I suppose I should explain what I’m talking about before you get to thinking that me and my glassysmooth marbles have parted company.Chapter 22 There is No Land Rover ‘There is no Land Rover.

have yourself a brew. past the graves of former aspirants. Your mind rushes forward to a hot tea. 119 . Home.’ So all the way around. They have been tricked. But just as you get within a few feet of your golden carriage. over hills and valleys. They take an imaginary towel and throw it into the ring of metaphor. total collapse an ever present vulture on your left shoulder. sipping a hot tea) tells you to continue on. The sergeant (dressed in a warm coat. ‘How much further.THERE IS NO LAND ROVER over the icy. it drives off leaving you stranded and confused and distraught – and fooled. take off your boots.’ Most people. utter failure an odds-on favourite on your right… and then you see it. hovering somewhere between breathlessness and total exhaustion. Like a watery oasis in a dry desert. ‘Until you see the Land Rover. toe-blackening Brecon Beacons on little more than a Mars Bar and the promise that ‘when you see the Land Rover. walking on blisters. The Land Rover. When you ask him. working around strains and cuts and injuries. Jump in the back. and (for the majority) that trick is enough to kill their dream. You quicken your pace. maybe some food and bed. living on fresh air and a frozen chocolate bar.’ he gives you one of those wry smiles and says. at this point. you’re home. You smile for the first time in days. do not continue on.

Until they are literally sitting inside the vehicle of choice with a hot tea. but only when you’ve got 120 . So many people fall for the Land Rover trick and give up just short of greatness because they allow themselves to believe that the Land Rover exists. the Land Rover does not exist. I’ve lost count of friends who have celebrated a deal before that all important eleventh hour. I remember this every time I think a script is going to be optioned (definitely this time). it does exist. Regretfully.’ And that becomes their mantra. and not beyond.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD It has beaten them. Not even a foot beyond. a battle is going to finish (imminently) or a big deal is as good as done (just ‘t’s to cross and ‘i’s to dot). Especially when everyone around you is telling you that there is. For those who do manage to pick themselves up and continue (for an added and unspecified distance). Well. sort of. I have seen many strong fighters beaten just at the point where they thought victory was certain. They only placed enough fuel in the tank to get them to the Land Rover. ‘There is no Land Rover. I had friends who lost their lives when they loosened their helmet straps because they believed that the enemy had retreated and the fight was (as good as) won. There is no Land Rover. there is instant enlightenment.

’ When the film is on screen. It is healthy to remember this if you intend to reach the top in any game because (believe me) that big deal is always looming. The Land Rover is always ‘just over the next hill. Until then there is no Land Rover. And that will remain my mantra. I take my celebratory beverage because that is the only time the Land Rover is real. and the tea in your hand. when the cheque is in the bank (and has cleared) and when the back door is bolted and secured. 121 .THERE IS NO LAND ROVER your arse on the seat. Until then is it little more than a phantom.

I see. ‘if that’s what I intend to do then why not? Why not! There’s a guy in Preston. still reeling from his unexpected response. It’s what you do when providence lights your day.’ I replied (a bit too defensively). Nick Park. I assured myself that my 122 . I had to tell someone. ‘Well yea.’ he said halfscoffing. half laughing. There was bitterness in his tone that made me regret the call. I’d just won an international development award for my film script Clubbed (based on my book Watch My Back). ‘Oh. ‘I suppose it’ll be the Oscars next then?’ His attitude landed like a heavy right.Chapter 23 They Laughed at Lowry Excitedly I phoned a friend to tell him my news. who’s won four!’ (If I have to I’ll go and get one of his!) After replacing the receiver.

you know. When a young German climber told his friends of his bold intentions to climb the perilous mountain Nanga Parbat solo – a feat never before attempted. giant-slaying industry. the haughty elite of the contemporary art world held their chuckling bellies and laughed the gentle northerner out of Manchester. Reinhold Messner climbed Nanga Parbat solo only six weeks after conquering Everest without oxygen. Who’s laughing now? And they laughed at Lowry. They called him insane. often encountered when leaving a muddy comfort zone en route to a starry ideal. They called him an amateur and his work (at best) naïve. too.S. neither would I be the last. I wasn’t the first to be laughed at for daring to dream. Ben & Jerry turned their $30 investment into a billion dollar. let alone achieved – they didn’t just laugh at him. hold me back. and I should never let him.THEY LAUGHED AT LOWRY friend’s attitude need not ruin my day. Equally insane was the idea that two inexperienced men (with an investment of only $30 and a penchant for good ice cream) could one day take on confectionary giant Hagen Das. ‘Who (they asked) does he think he is?’ Later. When the painter L. Lowry first placed his oils to canvas. or any others. when the (so-called) mighty had crumbled under the might and beauty of Lowry’s 123 . Criticism. cynicism and jealousy are a familiar trinity. They slandered him at every opportunity for trying to be more than (they thought) he was.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD vision. I love that! Don’t you love that? All of us have at one time or another had our ideas stamped on. All of us have watched the uncouth kick our dreams around the floor like cola cans. scoffed at or laughed about – often by those closest to us. but also perhaps because of them.’ Manchester opened The Lowry Galleries to honour his work. This is a job for life. nails full of shit – and said to him. ‘This is your lot. I turned to my workmate at the factory – elbow-deep in suds. I can take solace in the fact that they laughed at Lowry.’ Seeking answers.’ he said. he winked at me (as wise old veterans are inclined to do).’ He laughed at me.’ 124 . not only in spite of his detractors. ‘There’s got to be more to life than this. I love the Lowry story because I have been the butt of many an unkind ‘who does he think he is’ jibe when I dared to swim against the societal stream. His later exhibitions were dedicated to ‘the men who laughed at Lowry. He became global. ‘you should be grateful. I can well remember being bored to depression in the distant past and thinking. and his genius shone through the oils (bidders eventually paid millions to own one of his originals). ‘There must be more to life than this. Lowry had the last laugh. then leaning forward (as though about to tell me a secret).

‘You’ll still be here when you’re 60. never to return. We all can. This is my life.THEY LAUGHED AT LOWRY It was the job-for-life bit that scared the tripe out of me. I snapped my broom (very symbolic) and left the factory forever. I think he could tell by the way my jaw went slack and my eyes hit the floor like marbles that his shopfloor philosophy had failed to enlighten me. watch out! They laughed at Lowry. be whomever I want. All the things I wanted to do. I can do anything. And I am still doing them. go anywhere. It was like a dry slap across the gob. 125 . And more.’ Shortly after my tête-à-tête with Plato-of-thelathe. but the bitterness and conviction with which he delivered them – didn’t either. What he said next – not just the words. things I was told I could not – I did. And for those that laugh at my dreams. And look what happened to him.

then lack 126 . their faces scrunch into question marks when I ask. In fact. or you harbour any doubts or fears. far from it.’ Invariably. I now suffer loss of feeling in my lower legs and a permanent red ring around my bum. but if you haven’t. I am just making the point that if you have the will you’ll always find a way. so you can imagine the fun I have when people comment – on finding out that I am a writer – ‘Of course I’d love to write a book but I haven’t got the time.Chapter 24 Time My first book was written whilst sitting on the toilet in a factory that employed me to sweep floors. after six months of sitting on the throne writing. ‘Is there a toilet where you work?’ Not that I recommend the loo as the healthiest environment to write your latest – or indeed first – bestseller.

tools and facilities will be important and lack of them can hold you back. and certainly no pretext for not succeeding. He 127 . I found the time.TIME of time will always be a convenient excuse not to live your dreams. Pelé. Many a thriving. honed his ball skill kicking coconuts barefoot (ouch!) on the beach. arguably the greatest football player of all time. but that’s no excuse for not starting out. I was fully committed to writing it. elbow-greased tools. ‘time’ was not forthcoming and the vehicle refused to move. Many godzillionaires made their fortunes not only despite their handicaps but also because of them. (Do you have a toilet where you work?) Granted. But by the same count. When I wrote my first book I was doing two jobs and bringing up a family. And. A great proportion of successful entrepreneurs built their conglomerates out of cottage industry. at some point in your development. multi-million. hey. I wanted desperately to write a book. Richard Branson’s first office was a public phone booth. The next convenient excuse (believe me I have used them all) that people lean towards is lack of facility. whenever I failed to fully commit myself to a goal – and there were many such occasions – or when I did not place my heart in the driving seat.(even multibillion-) pound business was started from a rickety garden shed held together by chunks of work ethic and a set of hand-me-down.

All my early work was hand-written and in severe conditions that did not lend themselves to my quest. ‘You’ve spelt that wrong’ – and no hefty commission-carrot tempting the words from my often uncooperative unconscious. Until I could afford a word processor (later a computer) my working tools consisted of one blue biro (with perfunctory chewed top) and a lined. I had no time. Do you realise how many genius ideas are lost when the moment is not seized. but he did have a forceful desire that attracted success and convinced bank managers to hand over the readies without a security or reference in sight. Whilst I may have lacked the 128 . was the dread of having to work in the factory for the rest of my life.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD had no facilities and no money. And it’s not because prospective publishers turn down their work. my driving force. Or even worse. The only thing I did have that set me apart from the crowd was desire. ringbound reporter’s pad kindly donated by the factory stores. they never actually write it in the first place. it is thought that some of the greatest writers of each generation never see their name in print and are never published. My only incentive. no machine with fail-safe grammar and spell check – unless you count my wife who kept saying things like. and how many are stolen while people stand in the shadow of trepidation? For instance. rather it is because the authors never send their work to them.

Once you have desire and you totally commit yourself to the process it is almost as though the whole universe conspires to make it happen. Branson and Gates only get 24 hours a day. minute and hour in the present. make the grade. it accommodates committed souls. if ever. It also means sacrificing some of the little things that act as timeeating termites.TIME contemporary tools of the scribe and my writing quarters were certainly not ideal (one might say that they were piss-poor). We immortalise our time when we invest every second. My want was always greater than my lack. I am sympathetic to family and work commitments. those searching for the grail of achievement. it will be gone forever. if we fail to use it profitably. it can be stretched. But above all it means refraining from using the time-honoured excuse. For me it means getting up early and going to bed late. I did desperately want to write. But as I said. Those who don’t make the commitment rarely. And I figure that when it comes to using our time we would be wise to recognise that we are all allotted the same amount. It is what we do with our time that determines where our lives may lead. And I know how hard it can be. never to be seen again. Really! In my experience. I brought up four children so I know all about responsibility. ‘haven’tgot-the-time’ is just a pseudonym for ‘haven’t129 . time is very malleable. time can be cruel. ‘I haven’t got time’ because you have. Paradoxically.

nothing will get in your way. If you want something enough. For many reasons. Not least because I refuse to be a 90-something coffin dweller spending my days regretting the things that I failed to do. You’ll always fit in more if ‘more’ is preceded by a no-excuses personal commitment to making it happen. I was once one of them.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD got-the-will’. They’re the ones sitting in the factory canteen bemoaning their existence and blaming the world for their lack. Now I make a commitment. You don’t have to look far to see the people that don’t make that commitment. nothing will stop you. and I mean really want it with your heart and soul. 130 .

You feel sort of needlessly tortured. I went for a walk in the 131 . And who would want that? I was there again recently actually. As uncomfortable as it might be I know that without adversity there will be no advance. You are going through an emotional stretch and things feel a little (or a lot) dark. Life had cornered me with a heavy dose of highlychallenging workload and unexpected family illness. In that dark void. I was as vulnerable as the lobster shedding its shell. I do hope so. I figure it is simply a purgatory situated somewhere between the edge of our comfort zones and freedom that we will continue to visit as long as we continue to grow.Chapter 25 Waterfall You know how it is sometimes. So I did what I often do between the night and day of personal transformation.

something that gave me the inspiration that I was looking for. In fact much of what I have learned thus far about pain has been through observing how (as the Bible says) the lilies in the field neither spin nor toil. something that might rub a little balm across my throbbing brow. Nothing I observed offered any solace. The turmoil of the fall seemed to exactly mirror the internal struggle that I was experiencing. I liked this observation. Until. Immediately after the fall. raging and seemingly uncontrollable emotions that were racing through my mind and body with an energy that I did not recognise as my own. Then I intuited something else. It helped me to realise and understand that after adversity. It had been raining heavily all week and. that is. as a consequence. I hit the last five minutes of my walk and stood on a bridge that acted as both a crossing point to a small stream and an observation platform to a beautiful little waterfall. the Niagara that all of us experience during difficult times.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD local country park to see if nature had any lessons to offer. the waterfall was gushing over the precipice into the stream below. In fact the deepest part of the whole stream was right there. I noticed that in the stream immediately after the fall the water was very deep. Nature has many lessons. But today nature was not forthcoming. a deeper more profound understanding could 132 .


be found. I stretched back in my mind and realised that my greatest life lessons thus far, the reference points that helped me to negotiate ever new and ever burgeoning challenges, had always been born out of hard times. The good stuff that I wrote about in my books, talked about in my videos/podcasts and dramatised in my films and plays was the fruit of the hard harvests that life had given me. Then I looked further along the stream, on the other side of the bridge, and I noticed that the water there was very calm. This told me something too. It told me that even the most violent storms do not last forever, and that after adversity there is always peace; after great darkness comes great light. This gave me hope. At the time I desperately needed it. Often when we are in the very middle of a crisis our pain feels infinite and without end. My observations told me that no single feeling can last forever. As I continued to watch (and this is completely true) I noticed a duck swimming down the stream. It didn’t seem to notice that about ten feet in front of it the waterfall was at full rage. I wondered how the duck might deal with it. I watched and observed and was amazed to see that a few feet away from the waterfall the duck simply lifted itself out of the water, flew above the waterfall and landed safely on the other side of the bridge where the waters were calm. Amazing. What I loved about this was the fact that the raging waterfall was still there, the duck 133


just chose to rise above it. It did not attach to the turmoil below. I walked away with my first smile in weeks, determined to no longer attach to my pain, knowing that my understanding would deepen because of my experience and that there was a heavy dose of calm coming my way sometime soon.


Chapter 26

We Are All Dying
I have some good news and some bad news for you (as the joke goes). The bad news – and I’m very sorry to be the bearer – is that we are all dying. It’s true. I’ve checked it out. In fact, I’ve double- and triple-checked it. I’ve had it substantiated and, well, there’s no easy way to say it, we are dying. It’s something that I always kind of knew, but never really chose to think about too much. But the fact is, within the next 70 or 80 years – depending on how old you are and how long you last – we are all going to be either coffin dwellers or trampled ash in the rose garden of some local cemetery. We may not even last that long. After all, we never quite know when the hooded, scythe-carrying, bringer-of-the-lastbreath might come-a-calling. It could be sooner than we’d like. I have watched death from the sidelines, 135

you know. the great things you’re going to do with your life ‘when the time is right?’ Well. there isn’t a tomorrow. The prologue and epilogue are already typed in. Our only regrets in life are the things we don’t do. The novel that you want to write. So. Now that I have depressed you. Tomorrow? It’s all a lie. see. the West End play you want to direct – you have to do them now. We get to choose the meat of the story. So putting your dreams on the back burner until the circumstances are right means that they’ll probably never be realised. We already know how the story ends. I find. your mind’s-eye dreamjob. and nothing underlines the uncertainty and absolute frailty of humanity like the untimely exit of a friend. We’re dying. here’s the good news. the time is never quite right. Knowing that we are all budding crypt-kickers takes away all the uncertainty of life. this minute. There’s only a promissory note that we are often 136 . all those plans that you have on the back burner.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD quite recently in fact. All that’s left is the middle bit and that’s down to us. as quick as your little legs will carry you. in a hurry. pronto. It’s official. We owe it to ourselves to go out and do them now before it’s too late. the trip to the Grand Canyon you’ve always planned to take. Scary. It needs to be brought forward and done now.

WE ARE ALL DYING not in a position to cash. Your time. a bit faster if you don’t invest your time wisely) will be gone and you’ll have nothing to show for it but regret and a rear-view mirror full of ‘could haves’. Fill your bowl. When you wake up in the morning it’ll be today again and all the same rules will apply. an empty field that will remain so unless we start planting some seeds. we can cram as much into that tiny bowl as we can carry. Like the once-a-year holiday to Florida or Spain. It doesn’t even exist. which is ticking away as we speak (at about 60 seconds a minute chronologically.’ Life is like that small salad bowl. Have you ever noticed when you go to a buffet restaurant how they give you a bowl the size of a saucer and then say. They’re not greedy. ‘should haves’ and ‘would haves’. We come this way but once so let’s make the best of the short stay. ‘Have as much salad as you like but you can only go up once. Fit as much into the short time there as you can. They just know that they only have one shot at it. 137 . Tomorrow is just another version of now. Make sure that you go back home knackered because you got so much done. I love watching people ingeniously stack the cucumber around the side of the bowl – like they’re filling a skip – and then cramming it so high that they have to hire a fork-lift truck to get it back to the table. Like the hungry people waiting for their main course.

not tomorrow. Start filling your life with the riches on offer so that when the reaper arrives. If you can’t have what you want this very second the least you can do is start the journey now. No amount of clock watching will change the inevitable. it never arrives. She’s stood us up. So I say stop waiting and meet providence half way. So what I’m thinking is (and this is not molecular science) if we are dying and our allotted time is finite.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD If you don’t want to be a postman then don’t be a postman. we all get the same 24 hours as Branson and Gates. you’ll have achieved so 138 . this minute. We wait. It’s just what we do with our time. how we invest it. There is no time like the present. It’s the girl who keeps us standing at the corner of the co-op looking like a spanner. Give it up and be a painter. a writer. And now is the time. Just don’t be something that you patently do not want to be. while the inspiration is high. whatever. why the hell aren’t we doing all the things we want to do NOW? What’s all this back-burner stuff? And why are we all waiting for the right time when we already know that the right time isn’t going to show? The right time is the cheque that’s permanently in the post. a tobogganist. that determines where our lives may lead. the right time never arrives. We all have the same amount of minutes.

He didn’t do much did he?’ 139 . ‘Joe Smith… hmmm.WE ARE ALL DYING much. Act now or your time will elapse and you’ll end up as a sepia-coloured relative that no one can put a name to in a dusty photo album. crammed your time so full that he’ll fall asleep waiting for your life to flash before your eyes. Better to leave a biography as thick as a whale omelette than an epitaph.

Being the funny guy that everyone knows I am I could easily have offered the hilarious advice I give most people who have lost something important. He was feeling a little sorry for himself (it’s allowed – he is human) because he woke up one morning recently and realized why he’d been feeling so depressed for the last month or so. It is easily done. treading the world stage with the greats.Chapter 27 What do You Want to do? I had a letter today from a friend. rather he’d had one and (somehow) lost it. He was living without a purpose. ‘Why not look down the back of the settee?’ 140 . Not that he’d never had a purpose. He wanted (he told me) to be the best at something. he was going to train in multi-disciplines and become a martial arts maverick. My friend had once courted high aspirations.

’ and perhaps one of them might even be the thing he could be the best at.’ I’ve been here a hundred times myself).WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? It is amazing what you can find if you move a few pillows and slide your fingers and wrist into that scary abyss. he talked about how well his partner was doing with her career. look at what a failure I am. or what is expected of him. In the whole scope of things none of this is important. He also included a list of jobs he quite fancied doing. I am not talking about what he thinks he should do or what others think he should do. But from the gloomy tone of my friend’s correspondence I figured that even a jokester as original as I might be wasting time with mirth when wisdom (and a quick solution) was being sought to the age-old problem: How do I find my purpose? How can I become the best at something? In his email. ‘Poor me. and how he was moving jobs and cities to support her (because he loved her) and also how pleased he was for her success. I wasn’t interested in what will earn him the most money or even what might offer the ‘I’ve-made-it’ status that so many people crave. work that he thought might make ‘a great career.’ 141 . ‘It’s all bollocks. my friend included a list of all the things that he had tried and not completed (this is part of the self-pity. What he didn’t include on his list was what he REALLY wanted to do. In colloquial speak.

Forget income. Forget responsibilities. No more and no less. forget the government. Forget society.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD What I really wanted to know. Forget expectation. Forget what you think and are told is impossible. I tell you. Forget what others want and expect and demand. and what I asked him (and what I now ask you) is this: WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT TO DO? I mean REALLY. What do you really want to do? If money and people were not an issue what is it that you would most like to spend your entire waking life doing? What is it that you love so much that time disappears when you do it? What is it that puts a light in your eyes at the mere mention of its name? That (I told him. Do you really want to be bartering that 142 . Consider this: You spend two-thirds of your waking life at work. I tell them they are wrong. I have friends on six.and seven-figure incomes who hate the jobs that they do with a passion. A job with great career prospects and great money has nothing whatsoever to do with following a dream. I tell me) is what he should either be doing or at the very least making plans to do. They tell me that their life/job/family/commitments/mortgage keeps them imprisoned. I tell them that their right to choose differently will set them free. It is their ignorance that keeps them imprisoned.

If it was easy everybody would be doing it.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? much of your time just for a lifestyle? And anyway. And anyway. If you are the best at what you do (and it is easier to be the best when you are passionate about what you do) the money will follow – it always follows passion. When I did my 40 rounds on the bag after a five-mile run.’ To which I usually reply. I used to work full time as a martial-arts instructor. the texture. if everything came easy what would be the point? I have found that there is no flavour where there is no labour. It is at this point that people usually shake their heads and arch an eyebrow (as though I really don’t get it) and say something like. Similarly. It was my job to train for a living. It was a cup of tea! The taste. and certainly the most difficult 143 . ‘I’ve got a mortgage to pay. the smell. the feel – it was almost miraculous. a cup of tea was not just a cup of tea. ‘I don’t remember saying that it was easy. when I got my black belt in judo after some of the hardest training in my life. rich poets.’ Of course it’s difficult. who says you can’t earn just as much money and enjoy just as good a lifestyle in a career that you love? I know millionaire plumbers. Only that it was possible. wealthy martial artists. It is not that easy. I’ve got people relying on me. And I did train. What you work and strive for has a taste and texture that are only born from effort.

hard-done-by or elbowed out. How do I know? I have used the same excuse many times on my way to where I am now. those that avoid ‘hard’ like it is a piece of shit on the floor. knew someone on the inside (because. They wine because they feel overlooked. End of story. had it easy. walk under it or over it. undervalued. All those who walk around it. as we all know.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD grading I’ve ever done. never get invited to the Emperor’s banquet. This is the excuse offered by the people who just don’t step up. They sit outside and (many of them) bitch about how the people inside got a lucky break. If you are good enough you make it. And what a heap of horseshit. The lad that walked into the sports centre for the grading on Saturday morning was not the man who emerged on Saturday afternoon. Or they claim that the person on the inside sold out. I was a changed man. How noble. So hard is where it is at. ‘it’s who you know’). And it wasn’t until I buried that sickly heap of selfpity that I finally got on. And the only reason they themselves didn’t make it was because they maintained their integrity. 144 . It is the prerequisite to success. If you don’t make it you look back into your self and take responsibility for that failing and either try again or quit bitching.

global.’ She looked at him and said said to me. ‘He thinks he is world class already. I know many people (especially in the martial arts) who already think that they are world class and are constantly wondering why the world is not acknowledging them. It wasn’t happening for him and I couldn’t work out why. He had lost his purpose. I remember looking at one of my friends. He also wanted to be the best at something. I said to Sharon. You need to do a brutal inventory of your level. To be the very best though. Where are you really? If you are not sure (and this is a hard 145 . give yourself an honest check-up.’ She was so right. I can’t work out what is holding him back. What I have learned from my 46-years of life is that anyone can be the best at anything if they are prepared to invest themselves in it (my book Shapeshifter has more on this process). Don’t inflate your ability and don’t be self-depreciating. How was he ever going to try for the next level when he thought that he was already there? So.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? Back to my friend. I would say that four elements need to be in place. 1) First you need to acknowledge where you are right now. He was asking for my advice. He wanted to find it again. a decent fighter with a whole heap of potential who wasn’t taking that next step. world class. This is important. He could be world class. ‘This guy has got so much potential. though he was unsure of what that something might be.

Once you have a realistic assessment of where you stand on the hierarchical ladder. A very famous drummer was approached by his teenage son. If your purpose is not clear. son. 3) Once you have your purpose in place make sure that it is something that you personally believe you 146 . But if you are really serious about finding purpose don’t worry. ‘Then you’d better get busy because at the moment you just ain’t doing the work. the ‘what’ in question is probably and usually something that you have always wanted to do since you were a child and would be prepared to do even if there was no money involved.’ he said. you have to make sure the second element is in place. a search is in order. someone who is not afraid to tell you that you are great. but at the same time is not afraid to tell you that you are just not cutting it. 2) You need an absolute passion for your subject matter. they can’t always work out what. ‘Dad. ‘I am going to be a world-class drummer.’ The reply was harsh and to the point but this is the kind of honesty that you need if you want to be great. Finding a passion is often difficult for many people because while they want to do something great.’ His dad looked at him and said.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD one) ask the one person in your life who will tell you honestly. it’ll find you when you are ready. This needs to be someone that you trust. usually the kind of search that goes in and not out. From my experience.

hearing it. Experience has told me that anyone can do anything. eventually.WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO? can be the best at. too young. smelling it. If you are not sure that you can. the guitarists talk Clapton or Hendrix. too weak or too poor to make the top tier. 4) Ironically. what you do needs to be something that. it is about making that talk ‘walk. you can earn a living from because to be the best at anything you need to work at it full time. It is about reading it. talking it (but not too much talking). And walk. writing it. You don’t have to look far for sterling examples of people who have achieved the most outrageous success. Scan the book shops and Internet for proof to the opposite. And talking doesn’t make a champion. eating it with your breakfast. feeling it. watching it. The martial artists talk about Lee or O’Neil. Many people talk about being the best at this and that. the screenwriters talk about Abbot or Webb Peoples but when you look closely that is all they do. despite all the elements. It is about taking it to bed with you and waking up with it on the tip of your tongue. maybe you feel too old. They talk. Once you have your four elements in place. It is about surrounding yourself with it and above all else it is about putting in the (thousands of hours of) practise (under escalating 147 . if you want to aim high. seeing it.’ And walk. supping it through the froth of your beer.

EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD instruction) that is needed before the world stage offers you its boards to tread. If this is a time of confusion for you. The universe is in dire need of adventurers and it is waiting for your contribution. retrace your steps to a time when you were inspired. so that when you arrive and people come to you for advise and complain about how hard their life is and how they are struggling. Aiming for pinnacles is uncomfortable. 148 . if like my friend you have lost your purpose. you can say. Don’t let it down. let tell you about struggle! I remember the time when… ’ So. Be worthy of the suffering and the struggle. You will never be a great anything if you haven’t suffered. a time of struggle. pick up the old scent and make a great adventure out of finding your purpose. stop talking and start doing. There is hardly any air up there in the higher echelons and you can suffer. ‘Hey. get excited because that alone makes this is a great time. If you want to be the best. Beware. But that’s good. Confusion and struggle are the pre-cursers to major breakthroughs.

I know how debilitating it can be and I really do know how you feel. They just 149 . ‘who am I to be a success?’ I have lost count of the amount of times I have heard this comment (and even said the very same thing to myself in my darker moments). My heart goes out to all of those out there inflicted by this dreadful disease we call self-doubt. often even after major successes. It might help to know that you are not alone.’ they say to me.Chapter 28 Who am I to be a Success? I’ve had a few interesting conversations recently with people who really want to achieve some major goals in their lives but are plagued by a false belief that what it is they are aiming for is somehow not possible. Most accomplished people feel this way at one time or another. ‘And even if it is.

and even use his fears as a fuel. His body still sweats and shivers with the anticipation of war. rather he was a success because he learned to ignore. Because he recognised it he was able to step through it like a fog. but he sets himself above his biology and steps into the arena not just despite his fear. Even the master Samurai on the battlefield is not without fear. the easier it gets. But knowing is not enough – you have to ‘do.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD learn to override the negative voices in their heads and do the work anyway. but perhaps because of it. Loads of people have the facts. The great artist Escher was so full of insecurity and self-doubt that he would often feel an almost overpowering urge to stop a project. It helps to have some strong points of reference to fall back on. A plethora of folks can 150 .’ Reading and listening will help you learn the process but the only true knowledge is earned knowledge. It took me a long time to believe in myself. It is inspiring to know that even the master feels the same pain and fear as you. This entails getting a series of (even small) successes behind you to build on. but the more you push through the doubts and the more success you get behind you. He learned to recognise this self-doubt as a pre-curser to all his great works. He became massively successful not because he never felt doubt or fear. sometimes as soon as five minutes after starting.

Remember this when you try to change in order to grow and the people who love you turn their love to hate because you go from writing articles to books. The same as the first lesson of running is to run and the first lesson of fighting is to fight. it is the pre-requisite. put-downs. but information without experience is (what Shakespeare might have called) ‘a giant’s robe on a dwarfish thief. Expect trepidation. So to be a writer just keep writing. All the gold is in the pain. knockbacks.’ So when people ask me for lessons in becoming (for instance) a writer I always say the first lesson in writing is to write. books to novels. It is not the art of knowing. Expect the fear. set-backs. line and verse on how to be the best ‘this and that’ on the planet. depression. despair and the occasional failure. Salinger never published again. Expect discomfort. write anyway. it is the art of doing.WHO AM I TO BE A SUCCESS? quote you book. The critics lauded JD Salinger when he wrote the classic Catcher in the Rye. The very same critics savaged him when his second book was not to their liking. when even your biggest fans call you all sorts of horrible names if your second book doesn’t measure up (in their eyes) to your first or if you change style of try something new. criticism. novels to films or films to 151 . Once you have ‘made it’ expect the same again.

To get the gold. soldier. Everything you want resides just behind that membrane of fear you are feeling right now. Who are you to succeed? Who the fuck are you not to? You may deem great success an impossible thing. Remember this when you try to change styles or systems or dogmas and the frightened and the wary warn you to ‘leave well enough alone. That is why I was so elated at the BAFTAs because it proved to all of them (and to myself) that I (and they) can do anything. Close friends. I can tell you now that you have chosen a very difficult path.’ If you want to be anything – a writer. Even people that I loved scoffed at me. martial artist. tailor.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD plays. sailor – more than the norm. nothing is. You have to be able to greet fear and doubt and (at times) utter despair along your chosen path and face these demons down. but it is not. tinker. They liked you as you were and where you were. I applaud you for it because difficult in the game of life is categorically a green light and not a red. you have to get past the fear. I have lost count of the number of people who told me that I was kidding myself when I said I wanted to become a top martial artist and when I said I was going to write books and films. 152 .

Chapter 29 You Are What You Ingest Have you noticed how many programmes there are on the telly these days about healthy eating? Everything from Jamie’s Dinners to Dr Gillian McKeith’s You Are What You Eat. I think it’s long overdue. If this is the case – and the evidence for it is compelling – why do so many people still continue to eat a diet of poison ivy and expect rose-petal health? Why (as the old adage goes) do we do what we do when we know what we know? 153 . I do. We’ve all known (or at least we have always been told) that the food we take in determines the performance we give out. I love it. We also know (or should anyway) that the leading cause of death (heart disease) finds its way in through bad eating habits.

Healthy eating improves thinking no end. I have spent most of my life reviewing and studying diet in my search for self-improvement (if not enlightenment) and through years of trial and error I managed to get my diet pretty tight. and the brain has several forms of nutrition. But even with my food in place there was still something missing.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD This is a question I am going to leave you to ponder on. and whether that growth is healthy or not depends entirely upon the quality of your information ingested. You can get your diet as tight as you like and it still will not bring you optimum results if your thoughts aren’t right. but to take your thoughts to an Olympic level you need to start watching your cerebral diet. It is not physical food that I find completely intriguing. In fact every piece of information that you absorb becomes chemicals in your body. Thinking comes through and from the brain. Mostly because the answer is as obvious as your nose. mood found a steady and happy homeostasis. it relies upon it for growth. Don’t get me wrong. Information is a literal food for the brain. health was up. This is not a statement of metaphor. performance improved. Watch a porn flick or a violent movie and the body will explode with a cocktail of 154 . It was at this point I had a great realisation. the mainstay being information. There was still a piece of the jigsaw lost. it is cerebral food. I have to say that I did feel a lot better for it. Energy was up.

Will and you’ll be inspired to traverse the globe – like he has – in search of great martial mentors. listen to on the radio. who you talk to (this includes talking to yourself). If you have been around for even two decades you will 155 . and if it doesn’t get one (of either) those same hormones will quickly turn rogue.YOU ARE WHAT YOU INGEST stress hormones looking for a fuck or a fight. Stand with gangsters and you’ll get the violent high-octane kick of adrenalin that makes you want to set up a business in the dark arts. read. Watch a movie about Gandhi or have a conversation about the global power of love with Mother Teresa and you’ll be filled with endorphins and probably want to save a small village in India or tell someone close that you love them. Have an afternoon with Deepak Chopra and you’ll probably want to study metaphysics and manifest your dreams out of mid-air. If you are in a shitty part of the city under constant threat of attack don’t believe for even a second that it will not feed your brain. Have an afternoon with BJJ maverick John B. hang out with. But is this the kind of nutrition that you want? I am telling you all this but you know it already. admire and mimic. Even your environment feeds your brain. Your daily diet of cerebral grub consists of what you watch on TV. Spend the evening having it large with the pub cynics and you may doubt the very existence of good by the end of the evening. marry.

Bad news. Like physical diet.EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO ME IS GOOD have experienced enough to know that influences influence. It needs to be toppedup daily until it is habit. One bad day on a food binge can throw you into a state of nutritional crisis (your organs are high priority. Good news first. you only get the one set). Stop pretending that 156 . If you don’t want to see the replay of bad health for the rest of your life. And if they are strong influences they influence strongly. what you watch and read and who you talk to can be changed in the beat of a healthy heart. I have seen many a good soul turn gangrenous simply because of poor-choice friends. one bad night of poor choice company could throw you in jail or worse. Everything that goes in will come out in a similar fashion. Like physical diet. The good results only last as long as the good information. cerebral diet can be changed. cerebral nutrition needs to be consistent. I have seen many a good soul made obese simply because of greedy and poor-choice eating. Here’s the good news and the bad news. get your bollocks on the table and make the changes. Your environment and influences. So I say be very fussy about what you ingest. The mortuary slab has no respect for prior good behaviour. If you have the foresight and the courage. Equally.

157 . You are what you ingest.YOU ARE WHAT YOU INGEST what you eat and who you sit with doesn’t affect the very foundation of who you are. So ingest what you want to be.

No matter how hard the baby elephant pulls it cannot break free. Ultimately.99 P/b ISBN: 1-84024-264-7 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-264-5 In India. it believes that it cannot escape. that you would never be able to go it alone in business. Do you ever feel that you are tied to an immovable object and can’t break free? That you couldn’t possibly give that presentation. . after trying to break away and being thwarted time and again. and eventually. no matter what it does. or that you have to remain stuck in a social and lifestyle rut as there is no other alternative? This book argues that what ties you down and prevents you from realising your potential is only a ‘twig’. young elephants are trained in obedience by being tied to an immovable object like a tree. a fully-grown adult weighing several tons can be tied to a twig and won’t even try to escape. Geoff guides you through the process of breaking the negative thinking that binds us and reveals the ‘14 Golden Rules to Success and Happiness’.The Elephant and The Twig The Art of Positive Thinking Geoff Thompson £9.

99 P/b ISBN: 1-84024-444-5 ISBN 13: 978-1-84024-444-1 What if you could become anything you wanted? What if there was a method of practice that allowed ordinary men and women to transform themselves into beings of extraordinary talent? It is a commonly held belief that the leading lights of society are gifted from birth or just plain lucky.That with the right strategy and approach. the first self-help guide of its kind. now a martial arts expert. step by step .Transform Your Life in 1 Day Shape Shifter Geoff Thompson £7. Bafta-award winning film-maker and author of 30 books. screenwriter. but Geoff Thompson believes that anyone with average ability and a strong desire can succeed in any chosen field. success is always a choice .That shape shifting is our birthright as a creative species .How to practise the art of personal transformation. knows this better than most. In Shape Shifter. you will learn: . The exbouncer and factory floor sweeper.

www.com .com www.summersdale.geoffthompson.

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